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, 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!