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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Although it looks nice on a Christmas card,
it is not really much fun to put your baby to sleep in an animal's feeding trough because there is nowhere else except the dirty floor.

It is a dreadful thing for a mother to feel that the world has no room for her baby.

How it must have cheered Mary when the rough shepherds came bursting in,
all breathless and excited saying that they had a vision of angels up there on the hillside and had been told beyond all doubt that this little fellow was really God.

Might they please kneel and give him their worship and honor?

How the people snoring comfortably in the inn next door would have laughed to have seen the sight of the shepherds kneeling on that stable floor!

But that is how God made His entrance...

What we are celebrating is not the feast of jolly old Father Christmas or good King Wenceslas, or a beautiful scenario of wishful thinking or fantasy.

We are celebrating the visit of God.

How Marvelous!

I wish you joy this Christmastide, Dear Reader.
May you gain a fresh glimpse of His glory and a true sense of His divine presence.

Italicized thoughts taken from the writings of J. B. Phillips, 1906-1982

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Old, Old Story

This season is truly one of the most sacred and blessed of all.  Or should be.  It seems that Christmas time is becoming less sacred and important, and that no less in the Christian community than in the world outside.  And shame on us.

We have lost sight of the important, the central Truth somehow.  It seems we have become so 'pressed into the world's mold' and mindset that we no longer even notice.

Fret not, Dear Reader, this is not about consumerism, lights in the garden and house decor, nor is it going to be Santa bashing.  

My grief is principally News Letters, so called. 

This season truly is about News - the Good News.  We have those best news letters in the New Testament Gospel accounts.  From this we should take our cue for our own.

So Dear Reader, you may rest easy.  I will not be writing missives about the wonderful accomplishments of my brilliant children this year.  (There have been and they are)  Nor will you receive an organ recital listing all aches, pains and procedures of mine or of Husband Dearest. I could. I won't because frankly, I find them a colossal bore. This will not be about searing loss or other countless woes.  These happened, they are personal and they are common to man.

No.  This season is all about Him, the Incarnate, Risen and Living Lord, the Christ the Son of God with whom we have to do.  It is about the fact that He emptied Himself of His divine attributes and by deliberate act plunged into the storm and stress of our pitiful human life.  "The King of the ages came beyond the stars to dwell with us as our blood-relative."*

The Incarnation, that astonishing mystery as well as historical fact, that God became man like us, that we may become His children resembling Him our Father.  This is the news to be rehearsed and reported.

That is why we should be more like those first shepherds who heard, came, worshiped and adored, who then went away rejoicing and telling others the wonders made known to them.  

It was and is His news, His Story, which He allowed to become our own through His simple life of obedience,  His unspeakably horrible death and His glorious, victorious resurrection. Its all about Life and Light, Grace, Love and Mercy and oh, so much more.

May we like those simple shepherds go on our way rejoicing.
The old, old story is still the best.

~ Quote from J. Sidlow Baxter 1903-1999

Sunday, December 15, 2013

O Sing To God

During the Christmas season, starting December 1, it is a family tradition to haul out the season's an evening is the limit.

Among the collection are the great classics, as well as lesser 'filler' sorts.  Some are pure entertainment, some silly.  But there are those that do leave a warm and gentle message.

One of those is The Bishop's Wife - the old black and white version, please, Dear Reader..don't mess with the classics, thank you.  While the story line is a bit of a theological stretch and fantasy, it contains so many enjoyable scenes and wise lines of dialog.  

Perhaps, though, is the scene with the boy's choir harmonizing with such simple, gracious beauty.  This song has always thrilled me and this year I had to, once and for all, discover its origin.  

It turns out that it is indeed a hymn of honorable credentials.  It truly is a hymn, though not found in hymnals as such.  It was originally written, it seems, as a motet for women's voices which is why it is so well suited to those of boy sopranos. 

Here then, are the words for the reading and savoring.  Perhaps you will even re-watch this sweet old movie and hear this lovely hymn sung once again - reminding us of the reason why we sing in season and out.

O Sing To God

composed by Charles Gounod Dec. 1, 1885

Words by the Rev. B. Webb

"O sing to God your hymns of gladness
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay
Your Lord is born this happy day
Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness
The Lord is born this happy day

O sing to God your hymns of gladness
O sing to God your hymns of gladness
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay
Your Lord is born this happy day
Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness
Your Lord is born this happy day

O sing to God your hymns of gladness
O Word of God for us incarnate
O Word of God for us incarnate
By faith we hear thine angels sing
Thy blessed angels sing their hymns
Thine angels sing of praise to thee their King
We join with them in adoration
We join with them in adoration
We pour to thee our supplication
That Thou would grant us, Lord, salvation

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Distresses and Blessings

Dear Reader,

I have been away from posting of late and with reasons good enough to perhaps warrant your forgiveness.  Shortly after my last post, I received news that my First Hero and Last Champion was found to have an inoperable brain mass.  This mass is fast moving and quickly destroying all faculties and abilities in its path.  

Such  news is always devastating.  Even more so, for those of us who have loved this man well.  As my own dear son remarked : how sad he couldn't die as he lived, with poetry.

My dear, brilliant brother lived his entire professional career in the sphere of academia.  When he received his degree in Library Science if I remember correctly, it was one of only six in the nation in those early years. 

He has traveled the world, assisted learning centers, given counsel to governments, been instrumental is establishing museums and their collections.  He has authored books and encouraged generations of students in their pursuits of excellence.  And along the way has been a trusted and encouraging friend to many.

He has been a most kind and loving man in all his relationships, familial and otherwise.  He has rubbed shoulders with the famous and influential yet never lost his delight in telling of receiving his primary education in a one room country school.

As I look around my personal library I realize in very large part it came from him -for birthdays, Christmases and 'just cuz' gifts.  Books and learning have been his life.

For much of our adult lives geography has separated us, yet the childhood bond of siblings only three years apart has never weakened.

While I am prevented from being by his side in these his last days as his world becomes smaller and darkness comes in, my time has been spent, via technology, sending him daily chronicles of our country childhood as shared and remembered.  It has taken constant thought and much writing.  Yet it has been a joy and great privilege.

And here, Dear Reader is the blessing!  Never before have I thought of the astonishing gift that memory is.  Certainly all throughout the scriptures is the call to 'remember' given..remember My Words... My Laws .. My Sabbath .. remember the way in which you have come .. My comforts in the night seasons .. My death till I come ... Remember.  We are called to set up alters of remembrances .. Ebenezers .. noting times and circumstances when our God has drawn near and provided  help, refuge, strength, mercy, love etc.

Remembering and memories are true gifts and reasons for giving thanks. I'm aware too that one of the comforts of old age is the looking back.  Perhaps the reason for the vividness of youthful memories is the comfort it brings in last, difficult days.  Perhaps that too is a gift and not just an evidence of one drifting in ones dotage!

For my brother and me, it has been a treat to call to mind the small things and simple people and godly parents that made up the landscape of our childhood.  This has not been a time to remember the unpleasant, but only  the bright joys and loves and goodnesses.  

It has been a challenge and a stretch to be sure.  It has also given me a reason for my days.  It has given us deeper love and appreciation for the pilgrim path we have traveled.  It has given me a fresh glimpse of the Faithfulness of our God whose goodness and mercy truly has followed us all the days of our lives.  I now have a most detailed relief map of our Faith and that of our parents.

This childhood documentation will continue on until my dear brother's Arrival safe Home.  Then, perhaps, I will more faithfully resume blog writings.  In the meantime, Dear Reader, I have a more pressing claim.  

I know you understand.  And thank you.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A rough German peasant perhaps.
A tormented monk, to be sure but one with a heart desperately seeking God and God's Truth.

He was changed through a scripture text.
Martin Luther didn't meet words when he opened the scripture to the book of Romans, he met the Living Word!

"The just shall live by faith...."  That was the text branded on his heart.

God through His Word changed the man Luther and the man Luther changed the course of the Church and the history of the world.

He gave the Word of God in the common language for common folk.
He stood before Pope and Emperor alike defending his right to do so.

Luther gave song to the church, singable hymns loaded with doctrine.
And so much more.

If we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
Were not the right man on our side,
The Man of God's own choosing.
You ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus it is He,
Lord Sabaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

That was Luther's message, Christ The Man and He our salvation 
by Faith alone, Grace alone, through Scripture alone.

Happy Reformation Day, Dear Reader!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Does life never frighten you with its bleakness, Anne Shirley?

This line from Kevin Sullivan's movie masterpiece often comes to mind when Life crowds in with things heart-rendingly woeful.  Such events so often come in groups swiftly causing our focus to slip from the True.

Of late, there have been several of immense proportions touching the life of our family.  Among them  are those much loved who have chosen to leave the Excellent Way and make shipwreck of their lives leaving incalculable devastation in their wake.  While others find a valiant and productive life of one much beloved slipping from their grasp in a way beyond human control while they can only sit by in bewilderment.

Add to these the daily disappointments and other small-potato losses of the Ordinary and I find myself falling to my knees and pushing my little boat into the stream of scripture.  

Gone are the days when I spin in the why cycle.  "Why" doesn't enter in to the equation.  Whys were settled before the Throne in other such times. But the patchwork cloak of bafflement and the heaviness it brings envelop. Emotion broadsides bringing tears and grief brings on a slowness of pace and thought.
There is also a return to the well remembered pain of yet another great family loss but a few short years ago.

Then, as is always the way of Mercy,  glory visits.  For us this season, it is the bringing yet another new little lad into our clan circle.  Babies are always the perfect reminder that there is a Time for all things under Heaven and a continuum and purpose to the days we are given.

Too, there is the reminder that bleakness may seem our lot here in the Shadowland.  Yet the reminder comes that we walk through the Valley of the Shadow.  We are not pitching our tent there. Praise Him.

The eternal God is  [our] refuge and dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms....

No matter how low the spirits, how deep the despair, underneath even those are the strong arms of the Eternal God, unseen and perhaps even unfelt, yet there.  Always there.  Count on it.  

Again and again, praise Him!


Anne of Green Gables, the Continuing Story
Deuteronomy 33.27, Amp.
Image of a Jewish cemetery in Prague by Lynnette Austin McMinn  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

If I ascend to highest heights;
if the Spirit brings Jesus to me in unaccountable brilliance,
and the glass is wiped clear of the greater part of its darkness,

     Jesus is fairer.

If I am permitted to see what I can only call the beauty of Jesus 
in the saintliest saint,

     Jesus is fairer.

If I happen upon a grand doxology,
in which the best of the poets inscribes with the best of his best,

     Jesus is fairer.

If I could but once speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
fill with a rush of unqualified love,
    Jesus is fairer, and the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

If I could compress the beauties of all God's handiwork
into one transcendent handful,

     Jesus is fairer.

If, in another handful, I could combine Sebastian Bach, Michelangelo,
Brahms, Vermeer, Rembrandt, a heaven full of angel voices,
a world of newly born babies, a galaxy of weavers, potters,
sleight-of-toe ballerinas -
If I could hold these handfuls to my hungry heart and be filled with their glory,

     Jesus is fairer.

Dear Name! 
the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding-place,
My never-failing treasury, filled
with boundless stores of grace.

Jesus, my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Johannes Vermeer, "Delft"
Dumbfounded Praying, Harold M. Best, Wifp&Stock Pub., Eugene Oregon
John Newton, Olney Hymns


Sunday, September 1, 2013

It would cure anybody to walk over the hill every morning 
as I do before sitting down to write, 
with the spruces on either hand and the green meadows beyond.  
I tramp along thanking the Lord for a life so sweet.
~ L. M. Montgomery

The image is of the Willamette Valley, Oregon by Lynnette Austen McMinn
Used by her kind permission.

This may not be LMM's Prince Edward Island, but it the country of my childhood and is deeply fixed in my soul!  Because of that I understand Maud's sentiment.  

We may be kindred spirits, Maud and I.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

When it is the one ruling, never-ceasing desire of our hearts, 
that God may be the beginning and end, 
   the reason and motive, 
      the rule and measure, of our doing or not doing, 
         from morning to night; then everywhere, 
            whether speaking or silent,
                whether inwardly or outwardly employed, 
              we are equally offered up to the eternal Spirit, 
             have our life in Him and from Him, 
            and are united to Him by that Spirit of Prayer 
which is the comfort,      
the support,      
the strength and security of the soul, 
travelling, by the help of God, 
through the vanity of time into the riches of eternity. 
Let us have no thought or care, 
but how to be wholly His devoted instruments; 
and in everything, 
His adoring, 
joyful, and 
thankful servants!

~William Law 1686-1761

Image by Julia Valovich

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Names and Naming

"What's your name, child?"
The child hesitated for a moment.
"Will you please call me Cordelia? she said eagerly.
"Call you Cordelia!  Is that your name?"
"No-o-o, it's not exactly my name,
but I would love to be called Cordelia.
It's such a perfectly elegant name."

My grandmother was a critic of names - "a good, washable name" was her phrase meaning of course something that would stand when tested by time.   

Names are important, crucial even.  
They are identity.  
They make a statement, an impression.
They place one in History.

There has been a bit of family sport of late 'naming the baby'.  There is one more little one to enter our circle before years' end.  This we already know, the child is known to be a male child. He will make a quartet with the little boy-cousins that preceded him this year. (What fun is that?  Think summers to come!)

The parents of this child, have decidedly strict views where names are concerned.  'It must be strong, a bold name" says the dad - and rightfully so.  The surname name to which it will be affixed is a strong one.  The given name cannot have negative connotations or connections to unpleasant people known.  It cannot be close in sound to names already present in the family - too many of those we have! 

So far, so good.

At the recent family gathering some of us sat with the mom handing out our offerings.  An great-auntie began writing a list. A great-uncle, a teacher by profession, made practical suggestions like 'think of when he'll be in junior high.'

Our circle took on the form of a parlor game.  As is our usual, there were raised voices talking over one another along with much hilarity. The expectant mom sat with her usual calm and grace putting up with our nonsense and giving reasons 'why not' to most suggestions.

But when it all comes down to the appearance on this planet, the parents will look into the face of this little one and give him the name he will carry out into the world in years to come.

It really doesn't matter what that name will be, though I do hope it won't be too odd or goofy.  Still, at that point in time, this little one, with his new name will gain status, person-hood. 

This child will not be a mere gathering of parts and working systems as scientists would state.  No,  He is/will be a child, created in the image of a Creator God.  In his little face, there will be echos, glimpses seen of those from which he comes.  He will possess a place in History, ours and the world's.

As Time continues, he will touch many lives and make his mark on the world. I've no doubt it will be a proper and positive one.  That is how he will be trained by his godly parents.  For this, we have already prayed.

Exciting business, isn't it? This is continuum.  This is prophecy fulfilled.  Here  are promises for the future in sweetest form.

When he comes, this little one, it matters not really, what he will be called.  We will all have our pet names for him, that you can count on. 

He will become a most welcomed addition to the family.
And he will be deeply loved by all. 
That is something we do easily and well.
Quotation of course, from Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Uncles are important people in a child's life.  For myself, mine I knew only from a distance.  Our children had a bit more contact with one of theirs at least.  He, being gentle and spoken and fun loving was a favorite.  There was nothing he could not do.  He was always a willing participant in the kid goings on. He is remembered fondly by all.

At the recent family gathering there was this precious 'flash-back' moment.  

Of all that was happening, of all the big folk around, it was The Uncle, also gentle and soft spoken that got down to kid size, and with long Uncle arms was able to snitch ripe berries for all from the other side of the fence.  

It is true, they all could have walked through the nearby gate and picked berries for themselves.  

But what is the fun in that?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Mercies

The morning glories are finally, in bloom once again. I say finally because this year in this new garden space of mine, the bed where they were planted was well turned and well fertilized.  The extra richness of the soil made full, lush growth - beautiful leaves.  Now I know, for blossom production lean soil is the better way. Just a little garden tip for free, that. 

 We love morning glories. Each new day brings fresh new trumpets.  They always delight and surprise.  You can never be certain of the color of the day's bloom or location on the vine where they will appear.  That is why they ever remind me of our Lord's mercies which are 'new every morning.'

This year's arrival of the blossoms came to highlight the happenings of our days.
Yesterday we were finally - and again 'finally' is used in emphasis - called to sign the last papers on the sale of our former cottage.  We knew, of course, that this mercy would take place.

What we could not have known nor did we expect new mercies.  Graces too, for that matter.  The Hidden Hand orchestrated schedules so that we not only were able to meet the new owners, but were able to sit at a table together while all the papers were explained and signed by the four of us.

Their names are Peter and Kate.  Isn't that perfect?  Already they seem to fit in.  This is their first home.  They are thrilled with it, with all that had been done, with all that formerly said it was ours.  Kate loves the garden too.  We talked quite a bit about that.  She especially loves the honeysuckle as it drapes over the dining room window.

There is now a sweet, curly-hair toddler in this home where toddlers were commonplace!  He will put his own marks on the place, literally as well as figurative no doubt. That delight me.

By the time our paper-signing ended we felt like friends.  We know where Peter works, that Kate is a stay-at-home mommy who is in tune with her surroundings specifically and who rejoices in life in general.  Kate asked about the wall upstairs where the grand and great grand children's names had been stenciled.  Seems they left ghost images behind the over-painting I had done.  I apologized for not having re-checked.  But no, she was happy to see them, to know about them and thought it great to have such in her own home.

All these small mercies made easy the turning over our memory-filled home to others.  Perhaps the best was at the last.  As we left, young Kate said "Do stop by whenever you're in town.  Please know that you are always welcome." 

Talk about mercies in the daily small and mundane!

morning glory image by Tom Clark,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Just A Thought

Do the work that's nearest,
Though its dull at whiles,
Helping when you meet them,
Lame dogs over stiles;
See in every hedgerow
Marks of angel's feet,
Epics in the pebble
Underneath your feet.

These lines from Charles Kingsley though few, are full of sweet imagry and bringing attention to things I love as well as offering brief hints of duty.

It is always good to be reminded to do the work nearest, dull or otherwise..  "the next thing" as Amy Carmichael wrote..  "the day of the small things" mentioned by the prophet Zechariah.

But country stiles and hedgerows, these are English things of delight and charm offered as poetic imagery for our actions and surrounding.

Pebbles I know well.  Pebbles I collect.  These form special collections of our travels and noteworthy family moments. These are common bits and pieces of our world.

Kingsley offers the reminder to walk attentively so as not to overlook angel footprints, to walk thoughtfully over ancient pebbles in the way, stones of remembrance.

Then there is the matter of lame dogs.  These take many forms in our lives- or can if you stretch the point which I seem to be doing.

Not profound theology here, I confess, but hopefully, Dear Reader, you will find something to reflect upon This Day.

May your day bring you a lame dog or two who needs your gentle compassion. 

And may your day contain more of angel footprints than pebbles, unless the pebbles are epic!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Shoe's On The Other Foot Now

While I'm understanding this, I must admit to not liking it one bit.  Oh, what shoe?  What other foot you ask?

Well, here goes.  In our lives, and long they be, in our years as lay people, speaking church-wise, we have never had a beloved pastor announce from the pulpit that he was leaving.

In our forty years of ministry, we were the ones that announced and left. Certainly there would have been those in each situation that were glad to see the back of us.  Yet there were always those who shed tears of disbelief and then of farewell.

Like I said, now I understand.

A while back I posted about our search for a church home the dear little church we had finally found.  I shared about the fine young pastor who preaches the Word with clarity, power and oh so much grace.  Today, this young man we have come to love, admire and appreciate so very much, announced he would be leaving.  

We have attended his church for only a few short months.  We are heart broken and can only imagine the devastation his long term parishioners feel.  He has pastored this flock for 8 years.  That's a goodly record in this day and age.

All this adds to the puzzlement we have felt in these recent months of relocating.  What we will do, where we will attend in the weeks ahead we haven't a clue.  We have come to so appreciate the Lutheran way, but that has been in great measure because of the spirit, leading and preaching of the pastor.

I can say that, while we are oh so sad at his going, we feel blessed to have been privileged to sit under his ministry.  We have learned much.  What is more, his teaching has been so needful, refreshing and healing 'for such a time as this' in our pilgrimage.

Pastor Kris is a most gifted and choice young man.  He has a brilliant mind and an uncommon spirit. He has the gift of teaching, that is evident.  He has a sweetness and gentle wit and manner. There must be amazing things ahead for him and his family.  I pray so. Our thoughts and prayers are for him and his young family.  Those prayers will continue long after he has left our scene.  We can only, heavy hearts notwithstanding, wish him the Lord's very best and future ministries filled with  the richest blessings.

For us, well, I do feel we are at a bit of a crossroads once again.  After our long months of church searching we have begun to feel settled.  And after the long months of medical drama, this week, the specialists confirmed that there is nothing in recent reports to cause concern, and in fact nothing that indicates the need for further diagnostic tests, scans etc. It was even stated that the Man Himself could look forward to productive years ahead.

For that last bit, we know that no human expert can make that call, yet it all does give one pause!  What might be ahead for us all?  

Future plans are still secret.
The secrets are yet to be revealed to us.  
But we do know the One Who holds the secrets, Whose plans they are. And in that we rest.
Photography by Mitzi Schindele

Running To Promises

It is not news that following the progress of the Church Year in the Book of Common Prayer, at the end of the completed cycle all the important doctrines of the Faith are taught. The fact that these truths are presented year after year should not be seen as tedious.  The truth of the matter is this:  we forget and therefore need the constant reminder of what these doctrinal truths are, the reminder of what is ours in Christ Jesus. These are the truths for which men and women have given their lives to preserve, and which we too often take lightly.

These principles and pillars form the structure on which our Faith is built. These are shown in the scriptures but also the collects that precede each weekly lesson.  I've written much on the Prayer Book collects of Thomas Cranmer.  They are our beliefs compressed down into jewel form.  Today's is a particularly precious jewel in this chain.
 God, which declarest Thy almighty power,
most chiefly in showing mercy and pity
Give unto us abundantly Thy grace,
that we, running to Thy promises,
may be made partakers of Thy heavenly treasures,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mercy, pity, grace!  These are our Father's attributes as well as His gifts. But the insight into God's character that is revealed is how He uses His 'almighty power'. 

Here we get a glimpse not of the usual wrathful God, but a God beyond both our understanding and our deserving.

Our world is driven by the gaining and use of power - control - force.  This has tainted our thinking in so many ways, yet here we see the Almighty powerful Creator God showing power "not in earthquake, fires, and flood, nor in the starry sky and earth beneath, nor in signs and wonders", but in mercy, in pity.  This that we may be partakers of the heavenly treasures stock piled and put in store for His children.

All that is required is our running to His promises.  I love that picture, that of our running.  And where His promises are concerned, that list is long ~ His saving grace, keeping power, abiding love, hiding refuge, needful strength and on and on. Make your own list of the first promises that come to mind. That is the sort of exercise that quickly sends us to our knees but also makes the heart sing praises as it should.

When speaking of mercy, grace and pity I can't help but think of Psalm 130 verses 3 and 4:
If You Lord, should mark/keep account of our sins,
O Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with You
that You may be feared and worshiped.

Praise Him!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wee Three

Two generations back there were three little girls.  Sisters in that case, but all quite close in age.
To say they were always the best of chums would over sell the point a bit but as they grew to womanhood they came to appreciate each other's differences  and become very close and supportive of one another.

From those original three came 6 girls, our precious grand daughters who bring us such delight and joy.  They as sisters and cousins are best friends.  

Now, we are back to three again. This having been the Year of the Boy they have become quickly outnumbered. 

These Wee Three cousins are close in age.  The youngest just turned two, the other two are nearly four, having been born just days apart. Words fall short in describing the sweet joy these lassies bring.

These make up a delightful trio.  Already the differences in their temperaments are in evidence yet there are connection points too.  Each of them has days of mothering not just dolls but stuffed creatures of all sorts.  While Fairy Princess roles take up much of their energy, there are days when being pirates brandishing sticks for swords and lusty proclamations of 'Ho, Ho' are the game plan at least for the elder two. The dress-up basket is already a play factor and I'm sure will increase in favor in time to come. 

These all love books!  Stories read to them, of course.  That's what we do in this family.  But each can be quite content alone with a favorite book of choice as well.  That touches the heart deeply.

They love the created world around them and gardens.  That's important in this family.

They all enjoy treats and tea parties.  Even at their tender ages they have each been known to ask for a cuppa.  They know proper tea etiquette and are welcomed at the grown-up tea table anytime.  

While as yet they don't play that closely with each other, I think and hope that will happen in the years ahead.  I hope they will, in time, form a tight sisterhood.  Seems a wise thing with all the boy-people growing up around them. 

But most of all I hope and pray they will become godly women of integrity, gentle women of grace and influence who make a significant and honorable mark on their generation. Their mommies and daddies are bringing them up in this path. 

And Goodness and Mercy will follow them all of their day.
That's a Promise we know not to fail.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Surprise Of Three Score And Ten

Two or so years ago, this was unthinkable.  The death knell was proclaimed.  Disease had established a stronghold and that was that..wait for the end.

The Eternal God of our Refuge and Strength had His plan and that included added life and returned health.

So.  The Man Himself reached 80 years and the clan gathered.

We are still mystified by all that has 'been added unto us'.  We are so blessed, humbled and frankly, in awe.  The blessing of children is wonderful. Grandchildren are just as scripture says "the glory of old age".  But great-grands?  We never dreamed of that glorious addition.

It was a perfect day in the Pacific Northwest.  The location: perfect as well.  The Youngest Daughter and Spouse have not only a spacious yard and garden, but a river runs through it - or at least along side.  

Added to all things fine, this was the first time in a very long time that we were all gathered, from near and far.  Sacrifices were made to attend and celebrate by some. No one wanted to miss out on this day of days. 

One of us was missing and missed, he who has Gone before.  Yet, his presence was felt (he was a great one for 'memory making'.  How he would have danced with delight,)  and his face can now be seen in that of his grandson, the first of our fourth generation.

(A sweet thing to note: the party was envisioned and planned by a grand daughter with the help of her sisters and cousins.)

The Great Man Himself, the Patriarch is adored by all.  He loves the adoration and returns it ten-fold.

There were no organized activities.  No need for that at all.  But one of the Grands and her gifted hubby put together a picture history of the Birthday Boy.  There was much hooting and laughter but it was good for the young ones to see that this Old Fella was once a kid, a handsome youth, a Marine, athlete and Pastor.  Also the sweet Organizer invited some of the dearest and closest friends of  ours to share with us. The Grand-girls all provided the delicious and bounteous spread. 
Well done, my darlings!

Much more could be said, stories told and such.  Suffice to say, a jolly good time was had by all with much to ponder, and rich memories added to be reviewed with soft delight in days to come. 

The scripture chosen for the picture showing was

                       "Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations...."
That is the bottom line.  And in those pictured above and in this great statement is our hope and glory and cause for our rejoicing.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sabbath Resting

"Sabbath, as the practice of regularly retreating from our rituals of work, teaches us that in our absence, the world still spins on its axis.  Apparently the sun remembers to rise and set without our reminding it to check its day planner.

Sabbath is a similar kind of celestial event.  Like the North Star, it rises every week from the horizon of work to teach us what is most fundamental to nature's law:

The Creator, not the creature,                 
  sustains the breath and being of the universe.

...Sabbath has always been a transaction of trust.

When we pause, we create necessary and holy distance from the petulant idea that we are ultimately in charge of anything.
When we rest, we remember our limited role as Creatures.

Sabbath is the habit of humility we can wear every week, forcing us to relinquish illusions of our indispensability. In humble worship and rest we finally learn to remember that we are productive only as God establishes the work of our hands." (Psa. 90.17)

These wise words were penned by Jen Pollock Michel, a writer, wife and mother living in Toronto, Canada. Jen also writes a column in Christianity Today, byline "Hermeneutics."

I met Jen on the pages of CT and have come to appreciate her writings and insights. She is a rare young woman in today's society, Christian or not, a thinking woman of balance who acknowledges the God-ordained order of a loving and productive life which leads to peace and contentment. She also, quite obviously, has the gift of words.  is where you will find her charming blog about herself, her family and her faith.

Regarding Sabbath Rest, there is no finer book available, to my mind, than Mark Buchanan's titled The Rest of God, Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath.Mark's writings are trustworthy and very enjoyable reading as well. He too, has the gift of words and wise insight.

I thank God for the likes of these who have the ministry of writing and the discipline required to lay it down that others may be encouraged, challenged and blessed.

Good Sabbath!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Song For Franie

Where do friendships begin?  They are a gift of Grace, that is certain, but what is the spark that grows into the warm flame with its lasting glow?

Lasting - that is a key word.  Lasting come from being treasured and kept.  

Sometimes this requires effort on the part of one or the other.  
Sometimes it is something sought after.
Sometimes it just creeps along side you and takes your hand from that day on.

But just now that phone call came.  Franie, a dear friend of many years has Arrived at her pilgrim's destination.  No one more deserved a peaceful passage from her nighttime bed to 'the next room'.  In that I rejoice.

When first we met, I was teaching a ladies Bible study at the church where we had just begun ministry.  Franie was all 'prickles and stings', an outspoken independent woman, it seemed.  She told me from the first that while she liked my teaching, she sure didn't much like my husband's preaching!  He was too radical, too dogmatic, too male! Among other things.  Not the most auspicious beginning for a friendship.

Over time, I learned about the Real Franie.  Here was a woman who spent her life for others.  Here also was a woman who took life square on and when you asked 'how are you today?', she was always too blessed to complain.  Complain, she could have offered.

When quite young, she was left with two young children to raise on her own.  The husband/dad just left.  Yet Franie managed to honor him before her children.  And by pluck and hard work, she raised her children to productive adulthood.  

When her daughter was finishing high school, Fran did the same, graduating togheter!  The she went on to University earning a degree in English Literature.  She celebrated by taking herself on a trip to England.  Dreams come true.  Goals achieved.

Then her father became ill.  She cared for him until his death.  Then her invalid mother also.  After that it was her dad's best friend.  All these she lovingly tended in their last years.  But that wasn't all she did.

She was involved in her community in many ways, Senior Center, Library, and always at the church.

Fran saw neighborhood children roaming in aimless mischief-making on Sundays.  She invited them one by one in to have Sunday Dinner followed by an afternoon of crafts and needle arts.  (Franie was the original crafty lady.) But there was a catch: these street urchins were required to attend Sunday School and Church with her. (Nothing kept Franie from church. Ever.)

There she would sit, Sunday after Sunday with an assortment of young ones by her side.  And Sunday after Sunday she would love, feed, teach.
Along with that, these kids learned that Frannie's house was a safe house, a refuge where the cookie jar had no bottom.  They could count on sandwiches for school lunch too, if they stopped by in the mornings.

The most remarkable aspect of all that Frannie did, of all the care given and kindness rendered, you didn't learn about them from her in a trumpet blowing way.  They were observed and sometimes coming up in the course of conversation.

For my part, even in years after our first church connection there were cards and letters, thoughtful gifts.  Much of our correspondence was sharing things spiritual and talk of books and authors we both enjoyed.  It was all iron sharpening iron.  It was all good.

What a joy it was after many years to return to the same church where Franie and I met.  Our last ministry, her last days.  It was sweet to renew our friendship face-to-face in these most recent years.  This time too, she loved my husband, she loved his preaching and told him so repeatedly! 

There is so much more that could be told.  Enough for now to know that today Franie is at peace and much deserved rest in the presence of her Savior.

Her reward will be great, I have no doubt.
Well done, good and faithful servant.