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

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. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

In July The Thoughts Go Traveling

I can't help myself.  For many years, July was the month of holiday time and travels to places new.  Sometimes to places familiar because these we loved.

It has been a number of years now, but this week in July found us of a Sunday in Olney, England.

Olney is a market town by the River Ouse in Buckinghamshire.  We spent special days in this little town, but it was the Sunday visit that seems freshest and dearest this morning.

The draw of this spot in England was the fact that it was here that John Newton began his ministry.  It was here that he befriended poet William Cowper.  It was here that many of our most beloved hymns were written by these two very different men.
It was here, and  in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul that we worshiped one summer Sunday morning.

Needless to say, it was a most moving experience to sit, to sing, to listen in this church where Pastor Newton proclaimed God's amazing grace to his flock.  God's Word is still being proclaimed here with the same clarity and fervor, thanks be to God.  
A palpable cloak enveloped us as we sat and savored the spirit and  glorious history of this place.  We remembered the courageous lives of these two man as we gave thanks for the footprints they left for us on the pilgrim trail.

Like David and Jonathan, the hearts, ministries, lives of these men were interwoven. Even their gardens were connected by a path between.  Beyond, but not too distant their church can be seen. Just beyond is the countryside and the river.  

Cattle still graze here.  I'm certain that hares still hop about too.  Cowper love the hares and kept them as pets.

It is peaceful country, this.  Even in this day and age it is easy to understand how their walks together here fed their spirits, as countryside peace has a way of doing.

I'm so grateful for having had this blessing of travel..

  ~to have the memories of my Preacher-man himself standing (on an earlier day with     no one around) in John Newton's pulpit singing Amazing Grace..

  ~of walking through the church yard among the ancient headstones, of taking a           rubbing of John's..

  ~of chatting with one of the Excellent Women who keep care of the church and           grounds. She too cherished the history she daily tended..

 ~walking in their gardens and feeling a kinship with two men I've long admired..

  ~but most of all, that Sunday service, tourists though we were, blending in with a          fellowship of believers worshiping our God together.

Wm. Cowper's summer house and writing place in his back garden.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wishing You a 'Mary' Sort of Day

We are busy people.  Too busy 'with many things'.  At days' end we come unraveled from the day's spinning.  We are, alas, people of our world and reflections of it.  We are 'pressed into the world's mold'.  All around us is noise and bother, commotion and careening, lists and goings. 

Then in the whispered way come the reminders - all is done wrong and out of order.  Once more it is time to right ourselves by taking quick stock, by asking ourselves what truly is of value, of importance.  Are we choosing 'the better part'?

Granted, we are not all called to the cloister, we are not all permitted, due to life's demands and duties, the privilege of literally sitting in quiet at The Feet. At least not for long periods of time.  Yet, we can refuse to be caught up in what is needless. We can fix our sights on what is essential, of worth and of lasting value.  

As the Quaker's teach, we can center our souls and spirits in the quiet, in the Eternal. A phrase our pastor used keeps echoing in my ears.. "to pay attention, to look for the hiddeness of God in our daily lives.  That would be in the small things, the quiet things, the things we overlook because of hurry. These are the things that remind us who we are and Whose we are.

This takes a direct act of the will, I know, but when paying attention in this way,  our focus is returned to clarity and our lives are brought back in balance.

All this brings to mind the words of beloved poet John Greenleaf Whittier:

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

O for lives of order..
O for lives that confess and reflect His calm and beauty in the midst of a world's flurry and fuss.
Lovely image of calm by Mitzi Schindele

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Lord of all power and might,
which art the Author and Giver of all good things,
graft in our hearts the love of Thy name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness, 
and of Thy great mercy keep us in the same;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The imagery here is so lovely and floods the mind with so much from scripture as well as from nature itself. 

As a child, I remember my father using this technique of grafting.  It is used to develop a new plant, and/or to strengthen what is old, weak or faulty.

Defined in the English dictionary this way:
     - a part inserted from another so as to become nourished and united with it;
     - to reproduce by grafting.

This is such a lovely picture of what takes place in our hearts and lives when we, through faith begin our new life in Christ. Such a simple picture of a great and amazing Truth.

When it comes to our hearts, if we are honest, grafting is just what is required.  And if we are honest, not only is it needful, we are helpless to bring about change by ourselves.

Left to ourselves we become rangy weedlings running wild.  There is no good thing in our natures that can bring on eternally lasting good fruit.

Our Creator-Husbandman alone can pierce our hearts with His goodness and secure in place this new thing and so creating in us newness of heart and life.

As for the love of His name, that must be taught, learned through experience.  It doesn't happen naturally because it is me and mine that is the natural love.

The great verbs of this prayer, what Paul Zahl calls "grand askings" are my guides for This Day - graft
                  keep.  These are all good gardening terms to fit the process involved.

increase - to make greater in any respect, augment, add to, multiply
  nourish - to sustain, supply with what is necessary for maintaining life
    keep - to cause to continue, protect, guard, tend, take care of.

And all this that I/we might 'grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

My great desire is to be so united with such strong grafting as to be green and flourishing,
     ~ producing green leaves in drought time  (Jeremiah 17.8; 
          ~ planted solidly, deeply so as to bring forth good fruit in old age (Psalm 92.12-15
The Collects of Thomas Cranmer, Paul F. M. Zahl
11 Peter 3.18

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Where There's A Will....

She came into our world, it seems, ready to take on all comers. Not in a belligerent way, but a righteous one.  My favorite photo is of her facing down a goose.  She was no more than three years old, the goose was the same height but there she stands, finger pointed, wearing a scolding face giving the goose what-for.

This clear thinking, determination has been her style of life. What could have become hard and threatening was and is tempered by a elf princess, gypsy soul.  A very winsome combination to be sure.

Her horizons became broad, her dreams large.  With that determined spirit she focused and achieved.

The outside world was her first love, school was merely necessity   Yet, while still a girl, she entered a national writing contest and won for herself a trip to New York, with prizes and photo ops all sorts.

Through the years she has been playwright and director of Cousin Productions at family gatherings.  All brilliant and entertaining, by the way. 

She dreamed of singing and going on tour with a prestigious concert choir.  She studied with a vocal coach, saved her money and was accepted.  Her world expanded yet more as she toured 'across the pond' seeing for herself, among other things, her beloved-from-afar Ireland.

There was career move, a desire to acquire a beautician's license.  A year of difficult schooling followed and success was achieved.

She traveled to the Holy land with her papa and returned with a future husband.

These are just the highlights of life paths well chosen, a life well lived.  But it should be mentioned too that there is a straight-lined Faith conviction that has kept her course true.  As she has passed through life, she has been a Truth speaking, Truth living young woman of excellence.

The present finds her in a season of motherhood.  She conducts this as she has her life up to this point, with ease, grace and a clear thinking, straightforward good sense.  She has a fine husband, who she lovingly supports and encourages.  She has her own little gypsy elf princess and  prince now, which she is bringing up with joy, teaching them the wonders of the world around as well as in the 'nurture and admonition of the Lord'.

She, this young woman of exuberance and excellent, of joy and song, brings continual delight to us all.  We are blessed that she is 'ours'.

So with this tale of random thoughts I wish her a delicious birthday with full years of all good things yet ahead.  

With all our love to you our own, our very dear Bessie.

Monday, July 1, 2013

When The Children Ask...

The thought never occurred to me before.  Those endless questions of the children, often proceeded with "why?", are God ordained!  It's beginnings are found in the directions given for that first Passover meal.   This instruction was again repeated by Joshua at the crossing of the Jordan by Israel as they entered the Promised Land. It included setting up of memorial - visible things - stones of remembrance "that when the children ask...."

Asking questions is firstly a sign of a bright awareness of the world around and of everything in it. We tend to forget that what we no longer notice is fresh and interesting to the young ones.  Their questions should prompt us to consider that, to consider too, that the answers are laying a foundation.  Simple questions can lead to answers of simple learning.  But sometimes they can be of strong and important theology.

I do remember how tiresome that questioning can become.  Some children are more insistent than others and can quickly strip the patience from a parental soul!  Keeping the thought of it being part of the Eternal Plan might just ease the situation and indeed give the constant answering a special gloss of importance.

It makes me sad to realize these truths were not mine when my own children were small.  But as Mercy continually redeems I now have opportunity with 'the next generation'.  What a lovely thought.

"...things we have heard and known
We must not hide them from their children,
but must tell a future generation
the praises of the Lord,
His might, 
and the wonderful works He has performed...
 to teach their children
so that a future generation
-children yet to be born-
might know..
so that they might put their confidence in God
and not forget God's works,
but keep His commandments."

Exodus 12.25-27
Joshua 4.6,7
Joel 4.6,7
Psalm 78.1-6 Holman Standard Bible Trans.