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, March 31, 2013

Jesus strides forth as the Victor,
conqueror of death, hell and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down
and lives forever.

Adorable Redeemer,
Thou who wast lifted up upon the cross
art ascended to highest heaven, 
Thou, who as man of sorrows wast crowned with thorns,
art now as Lord of Life wreathed with glory.

Once, no shame more deep than Thine,
no agony more bitter, no death more cruel,
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious, no advocate more effective.

What more could be done than Thou has done!
Thy death is my life, Thy resurrection my peace,
Thy ascension my hope, Thy prayers my comfort.


It was and is all of Grace.
Grace alone.
For me.
Praise Him!

Happy Easter wishes to you, Dear Reader!

Quotation from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
Ed. Arthur Bennett

Friday, March 29, 2013

How deep the Father's love for us,
How kind beyond all measure,
that He should give His Only Son
To make a wretch His treasure?
Behold the Man upon the Cross,
My sin upon His shoulders,
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me Life.
I know that it is finished.

I would not boast of anything,
no gifts, no power, no wisdom,
But I shall boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give and answer,
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.

~Stuart Townend

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lamb, Sacrifice, Refuge, Rock, Foundation ~

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
'Tis the Christ, by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, 'tis He, 'tis He!
'Tis the long-expected Prophet,
David's Son, yet David's Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
'Tis the true and faithful Word.
Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See Who bears the awful load;
'Tis the Word, the Lord's anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost:
Christ the Rock of our Salvation
Is the name of which we boast;
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.
~Thomas Kelly - 1804

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Hymn and Story Now Complete

As we move toward the end of Passion Week, it is only right and proper that the rest of this season's choice hymn is given.  Here then are the five additional verses that complete the historic account of The Cross.

Sometimes they strew His ways
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King.
Then "Crucify!"
Is all their breath,
And for His death
They thirst and cry.

Why what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run
He gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries!
Yet they at these 
Themselves displease
And 'gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of Life they slay.
Yet cheerful He
To suffering goes
That He His foes
From thence might free.

In life no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What can I say?
Heav'n was His home
but mine the tomb
Wherein He lay.

Here might I stand and sing
No story so divine!
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my friend
In whose sweet praise
I all my days 
Could gladly spend!

~My Song is Love Unknown
Samuel Crossman, 1664

My Song Is Love Unknown, King's College, Cambridge choir presents in part on Youtube.
Alas I could not afix the link for you Dear Reader.  But it is worth your time to seek this out.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fresh This Season

Easter has always been the high point of the Church year for me.  This year, however, new insights have been gained.  This year, this season finds us worshiping in a high church fellowship.  All has become truly 'a season'.  The Way of the Cross, if you will, is marked, preached, pondered not just given the one glorious day treatment.

Along with that has come the introduction of strong hymns of the ancients that have come down to us and preserved by the high church denominations.

One that has been repeatedly sung, with a haunting melody and grand words has become a heart's favorite.  In truth, the first we heard it, there were not only unfamiliar words but unusual melody line.  We could only stand and listen.  And weep.  The words, the message struck deep, struck movingly. It has continually played in my mind these last weeks.

Dear Reader, while this may not be new to you, bear with me patiently as I offer the first two stanzas this day.  Perhaps more will follow at a later date.

My song is Love unknown,
My Savior's love to me,
Love to the loveless shown
That they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I
That for my sake
My Lord should take 
Frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know.
But, oh, my friend,
My friend indeed,
Who at my need
His life did spend!

Ah yes!  Ah This!  


Hymn author: Samuel Crossman, 1664
Tune: John Ireland, 1918
(Cyberhymnal has the hymn and this tune) 
Lovely photo: Mitzi Schindele, Montesano, WA

Monday, March 18, 2013

When Heated in the Chase...

As pants the hart for cooling streams,
When heated by the chase;
So longs my soul, O God for Thee,
And Thy refreshing Grace...

Why restless, why cast down, my soul?
Hope still, and thou shalt sing
The praise of Him who is Thy God,
Thy health's eternal spring.

There are days, even when the sun is shining outside the window and the breeze brings promise of Spring when the hart's heart is heavy and heated by the chase.

Best to remember then "...all my fresh springs shall be in Thee."

Poem fragment: Nahum Tate (1652-1715) & Nicholas Brady (1659-1726)
                          Paraphrase of Psalm 42
'fresh springs': Psalm 87.7, Book of Common Prayer Psalter trans.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"No Peradventure in Thy Grace"

Isn't that an amazing thought?  No chance, no uncertainty concerning the Grace of God to us, to me?

The Lenten scripture for this day includes that incomprehensible statement of our Lord where He proclaims He is I AM.

This, the declaration given of old to the patriarchs:  I AM, the Self-Existent One "I get life from nothing for I Am Life and give life to all things".

New hope and new duty to mankind is opened up in this the fact that God has spoken to man.  He, the I AM who stooped from the throne of Heaven, again and again through the centuries to say I AM your God.

And again, when even that did not set sinful man to the right,  stooped once again from the Throne to perform that infinite deed of love - was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a woman, "very God of very God begotten"- lived and then died in the form of mortal man on the cross. 

The I AM .. the Cross .. my debt of sin .. paid in full .. Grace abounding ever and always .. in and around.

No, there is indeed 'no peradventure in Thy Grace'.

"Grace that is greater yes, Grace untold,
Points to the Refuge, the mighty cross...
Grace that is greater than all our sin."

Praise Him!

Title phrase taken from Puritan Prayers:The Valley of Vision, 
Arthur Bennett, ed.
Hymn fragment: Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord, Julia H. Johnson

By Special Request

For the sprites in the family and those that love those sprites, here is the wonderful photo of the Fairy Bridge.  The setting, too, is every child's dream wood.

Again, this photo by Jon Wornham of the Isle of Man.
Used by permission.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing 
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing 
once again into our doors.

Photography copywrited by Jon Wornham, Isle of Man, 
used with his kind permission

Prayer attributed to St. Patrick, from Celtic Daily Prayer, 
From the Northumbria Community; Harper Pub.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


"Children's children are the crown of the aged."

Cousins!  And there can be no denying the family connection.  Just compare those faces!  

This could so easily become a piece on "when they were little".  So much family history, so much of joy and tears already locked up in their young faces, hearts and lives.  But more than anything, it is a piece on rejoicing.

Represented here and cause for rejoicing are the gifts and graces these cousins are bringing to, not only the family, but the separate spheres in which they live. They are young women of loving hearts and kind acts, without exception starting when they were very young.

A most remarkable reason to rejoice is in the fact that in this present confused and wayward generation, these have made wise life choices.   Granted, the end of their stories is yet to be written, still, for now there is only pride - in the best sense - in the ways in which they have lived their lives and the ways of service and grace they've chosen to ministers to those around them.

Rejoicing too, in the promise of yet a future generation being raised in righteousness.

Added to all that is serious and fine, these are some of the world's funniest, wittiest, goofiest young women.  They enjoy life, family and the world around them.  They spread joy, laughter and song on all our paths. There is no end to the fun and silliness any time they meet.

Here is balance in lives well lived.  Here is steady walking the pilgrim way - with dancing.

And in this Nana's heart there is rejoicing too, knowing that The Goodness and Mercy will follow them all of their days and bring them to their goodly reward.


Photo by Julia Valovich

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Good And New Good News

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God,
that we, which for our evil deeds are worthily punished,
by the comfort of Thy grace may be mercifully relieved;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So reads the collect this fourth Sunday of Lent.  This is one of the oldest collects, and truly a picture of our age old plight.. sinful folk deserving of punishment.  It calls to mind the Psalm which states "O Lord, if you should keep account of our sins, who could stand?"  This cold comfort which only seems to amplify the fact of our lost-ness.

And so the Gospel came.  In its most simple form "Christ died for our sins".  I love the simplicity of that statement.  In the midst of our brokenness and the whirl and muck of chaos we have created for ourselves in our fallen state, the fresh breeze of Truth sweeps in.  Christ died!  It is finished!  He arose! Grace abounds!

"What is both Good and New about the Good News is the wild claim that Jesus did not simply tell us that God loves us even in our wickedness and folly and wants us to love each other the same way and to love Him too, but that if we let Him, God will actually bring about this unprecedented transformation of our hearts Himself.

What is both Good and New about the Good News is that mad insistence that Jesus lives on among us not just as another haunting memory but as the outlandish, holy, and invisible power of God working not just through the sacraments but in countless hidden ways to make even slobs like us loving and whole beyond anything we could conceivably pull off by ourselves."*

"God has not only made His personal visit,
not only given us the pattern of true and happy living,
not only died to reconcile us to Himself, 
not only is risen again both to shatter the fear of death and to prove His own claims, 
but there is no barrier now between Him and us.
God in Christ is our contemporary.
If that is not Good News, it would be difficult to know what is!"+

Psalm 130.30
*Frederick Buechner
+J. B. Phillips

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Importance of Feet -Small Lenten Thoughts

Beautiful .. joyous .. dancing .. steadfast .. slipping  .. lame .. tired .. road-dusty .. wounded.

These are just some of the type of feet mentioned in the Hebrew scriptures and the records left for us by the Apostles.

Feet, functioning feet are important to a full life.  Yet in our time, what encloses the foot is given all the attention.  It is documented that our society spends billions of dollars on footwear.  Footwear goes well beyond what is needful for protection and traction.  Even here, with our warped sensibilities, feet are shod to impress others, to show status, to draw attention and seldom even for comfort.  Sad but true, the foot seems all but forgotten.

The unshod foot has been the focus of my thoughts of late, the unshod foot of the Savior.  This was the foot/feet that drew the loving attention of the Marys in scripture.  One, in loving sacrifice bathed her Lord's feet and not meanly but lavishly, giving thought and expenditure to the act.  Mary of Bethany sat at His feet in quiet submission. Both these were seen by the Lord to be acts of worship which pleased Him. 

One other Mary, his own mother, knew His feet.  Had she kissed and nibbled His baby feet in the days before He took His early steps?  Did those tiny feet, as the late Calvin Miller  suggests "each wear a curious scar of some wound as yet unopened, that had been there long before His birth"?

Truly, the time came when there was indeed a visible wound from nails which violated that precious flesh and bone.  These were the wounds, the scars that Thomas saw and so believed.  These are the feet at which, in time to come, all peoples of all nations will bow.

And these feet are those at which we can now only sit in spirit.  This, like Mary of old, we must learn to do.  We need to slow the pace of our own hurried feet in order to do just that.
Our feet take us into so many byways that we often miss out on the 'better part'.

Bless me, O my Savior bless me,
As I sit low at Thy feet;
O look down in love upon me,
Let me see Thy face so sweet;
Give me Lord the mind of Jesus,
Make me holy as He is;
May I prove I've been with Jesus,
Who is all my righteousness.


Precious photograph of baby feet by Julia Valovich
Calvin Miller quotation from The Singer
Hymn fragment anonymous

Monday, March 4, 2013

Following Our Calling

Searching for a church in which to worship and serve is hard work.  Our being in ministry so many years, being 'placed' in a church, prevented us from knowing this.
Well, we know it now and not only is it hard work, it is often disheartening.

How does one choose?  A feeling?  A sign?  Truly this effort has taken us far beyond denominational lines and comfort zones.  As we visit around, there is much concern for the spiritual condition of fellowships encountered. Much that is good can be found and much also that is foreign to us. 

Then occasionally we come across hopeful signs, Kingdom people who thrive and strive to follow the King.

Such a one blessed us yesterday.  A young man, a youth pastor looking forward to a ministry, saying a moving good-be to his present fellowship.  This is the kind of young man that gives the old heart fresh hope for future generations.  This is a young man with a heart after God and a servant's spirit..a young disciple who has a passion to  "go and make disciples" as well.

As he spoke from his heart, he also presented all in his hearing with the challenge to be the examples of Christian Truth to which we are all called.  Of a generation that takes spiritual ways and means oh so casually, this young one takes it all with seriousness and with evident joy.

All this brought to mind an inscription in Lubeck Cathedral, Lubeck, Germany. This inscription echoes the words of our Lord Christ.  And it provides conviction and reminder for each one of us at any age or point in our pilgrimage walk.

Ye call me Master, and obey me not;
Ye call me Light and see Me not;
Ye call Me Way and walk Me not;
Ye call me Life, and desire Me not;
Ye call Me Wise and follow Me not;
Ye call Me Fair, and love Me not;
Ye call Me Rich, and ask Me not;
Ye call Me Eternal, and seek Me not;
Ye call Me gracious, and trust Me not;
Ye call be Mighty and honor Me not;
Ye call Me Just and fear Me not;
If I condemn you, blame Me not.

[Godspeed, Jason and may rich blessings cover you pathway, all the days, all the way.  Thank you for enriching my day and encouraging my heart.]

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Glorious wastefulness,
O my Lord, Thou art!
Sunset faints after sunset into the night
Splendorously dying from my window sill forever.
Sad our poverty doth bow before the riches of Thy making might.

~George MacDonald, 'Diary of and Old Soul

Friday, March 1, 2013

Regarding the Future...

George MacDonald is one of my dear, dead friends and mentors.  While we don't see eye to eye on some theological points, there is much to be gleaned from his wisdom.

His was not an easy road in this life.  Not at all.  Yet he understood well his Heavenly Father's provision and plan. So George, minister that he was, taught and wrote from his own experience and journey.

What follows then, is George's good word for This Day.

It has been well said that 
no man ever sank under the burden of the day.
It is when tomorrow's burden is added
to the burden of today
that the weight is more than a man can bear.
Never load yourselves so, my friends.
If you find yourself so loaded, at least remember this:
It is your own doing~
not God's.
He begs you to leave the future to Him
and mind the present.

Looking to the future is one thing.
Fretting about it, quite another.

Go forth with joy This Day, Dear Reader, knowing the Shoulders on which today's burdens rest.