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, May 22, 2013

Saying Goodbye To The Corners

The time has come when the final fixing and fussing, the returning our former home back to a house for the market is completed.

One day the Man Himself came and said it was time for the final mopping throughout. Then he added "I'd've done it myself, but I knew you'd want to say goodbye to all the corners.

Isn't that a charming thought?  And so unlike the Man to say such a thing!  Still I pondered the cleverly stated truth of it a great deal.  

When the actual mopping took place, it was with light step and happy heart.  Really.  Perhaps because the readying had been such a long, arduous and costly process.  To be done is a good thing.  But it was more than that, much more.  In the empty quiet of the place there was time for reviewing thoughts.  There were so many blessings to recount, rehearse and put in their proper memory boxes.  In the years spent in that home, we experienced the deepest griefs known to humankind and the highest joys ..great loss and great gain.  Death, marriages, births.  

As I mopped the floors, and yes getting into the corners too, I couldn't help but pray for the next occupants, praying that they would know great joy, that they would have grace and strength for what ever their years might hold.

I also remembered, blessed and prayed once more for all the skilled hands (and knees too) that helped us turn the physical house into a home with our stamp on it.  Dear sainted Ed from a former church who came in the beginning, helping us take up yards of bubble gum pink and lime frosty green shag carpet, removing the dark brown and unspeakably ugly faux Mediterranean style cabinetry out of the Victorian bathroom...the daughter and son-in-law who laid down miles of Pergo wood-look flooring and installed the French doors when we were on holiday...the son who hand-crafted the beautiful Swedish style stair railings...the grandson-in-law that painstakingly built a beautiful front door threshold...gallons of pain applied again by daughter & company as well as friends old and new.

Yes, all told, that little cottage has a full and sweet history of love and shared times that become treasured memories.

It was not lost on me that the Psalter portion for the day included "O give thanks unto the Lord for He is gracious; and His mercy endureth forever..offer unto Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving and tell out His works with gladness!"*  and remembering too, that 'sacrifice' is the offering up of something of worth for something of greater value.

So there you have it Dear Reader, This Day the offering up of blessed corners for  future blessings to come.


*Psalm 107:1,22

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

An Old Friend Happily Rediscovered

It was one of those times in a life when you vividly remember where you were, what you were doing, perhaps even what you were wearing. And you keenly remember what your feelings were as well.

Those fragments of memory are not important.  But it was a news broadcast.  It was telling the world that five young missionaries had been martyred for the cause of Christ in the Ecuadorian bush.

Jim Elliot was the 'local boy' but more than that he was family.  My dad and his were first cousins and very close.  Fred Elliot was also supporter and mentor to my father in his own evangelistic efforts.  Visiting 'Uncle Fred and Aunt Clara' in their lovely Portland home was always a treat.  I was quite young but old enough to be influenced by their godly grace and by the warmth and charm of their two youngest, Jane and Jim.  I looked up to these with the greatest admiration and awe.  Jim in particular.  He was so vital, handsome, energetic, a proper evangelical Tigger, if such a  thing is possible or proper. He was the sort of young man that made a young girl's heart skip a beat.

His life, his death left a lasting imprint on my heart and mind, and on all those who his life touched in the generations that followed.  

Now comes the 'friend' part.  Jim's wife Elizabeth gained national prominence by her writing of the jungle incident, of the lives of the men, her husband's in particular.  While I cannot in honesty claim Elizabeth as a friend I can claim her as a most important spiritual mentor.  Her subsequent spiritual writings have guided, instructed, comforted and inspired me through many long years.

Life moves on and with it books and mentors are put aside or replaced.  Whatever the reasons, it happens.

Recently Elizabeth  and her influence has been brought back to my mind for many reasons, through different circumstances. While doing my commonplace Google activities, I discovered her webpage.  It is not a blog as such, just a daily devotional thought.  I thank her for that. And I recommend it to you, Dear Reader.

And I thank our God for raising up such stalwarts in each generation who leave a record of His faithfulness to enrich and encourage my life.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Coming Home To A New Rhythm

Years ago, Elizabeth Elliot wrote a thoughtful essay on the theme of worship.  In it she spoke of how our Sunday time of coming together should also be a coming apart.  It should be separate from our daily flutter and fuss in the world.  It should be separate in form and feel, in simplicity and substance, in thoughtful quietness.

This I understood.  My early years of worship experience were among the Plymouth Brethren.  That form of worship follows that format.  Then I married a Baptist.  That tradition brought with it a bit of culture shock, yet in the early years, it was not really all that different.

During our child raising years, we were Mennonite, conservative but not ultra-ly so. I felt like I fit in that form and structure.

Then there were our years of ministry.  In the beginning I felt very much a 'Mennonite missionary to the Baptists'.  Most of the churches we served were Baptist.  The others, that blend referred to as 'community' with every sort and breed of denomination adding to the mix.

All those years I felt very duck-out-of-water-ish.  I jokingly referred to myself as a closet Anglican.  In large part, that is due to the fact that the churchmen and women whose writings have most influenced me have been High Church.  My thinking and theology has been saturated with these.  The Book of Common Prayer has long been a tool of private devotion.  The liturgy speaks to me.  The clearly lined structure suits me and quiets my spirit.

Now, after many agonizing months of prayer and searching we find ourselves in fellowship with a Lutheran congregation.  Now, to be honest, Martin Luther and "Kitty, his Rib" have long been on my list of heroes of the Faith.  Yet, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine being one with them.

I hasten to add, that reading liturgy in ones cloister chair is quite different than reciting it in community.  In the beginning, there were apologies to our present pastor that we were new and awkward to the rhythm.  But we have continued on and are finally getting in step with this new rhythm to the old Song.

The Dear and Patient Husband, a dyed in the wool Low Church/Chapel/ Baptist, in the beginning was, I well know, indulging me.  But over time he is being won over.  This is because, in part, this is a singing church, full volume, parts and all.  Even the children and teens sing the hymns.  And oh, those old hymns - all verses are sung, even those on 'the next page' outside of the written score.

Most important for us both is the dear young pastor.  He is clearly a man of Faith, Spirit filled and directed who knows and loves his Savior.  He, Sunday after Sunday preaches Truth from scripture with a joy and zeal that is uncommon in this day and age.  

So here we are after all these years.  It is a new and challenging experience.  We are most grateful to have found a spot that is our heart's home for now, for this season.

Thanks be to God for His amazing leading and His great goodness. 

The church pictured is that of The Church of St. Columba, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, England.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

And Her Children Shall Rise Up And Call Her Blessed

It isn't by words that her children rise up and bless.  It is by their lives.  Therefore, I am blessed X 4.

How I thank our Sovereign God who in Eternity Past chose you to be in my life.
I thank you four for validating my choice to be a career Mom so many years ago.

The blessings have been so many and they just seem to keep rolling in!

Praise Him!

Happy Mother's Day moms one and all and to you too, Dear Reader.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Recurring Themes For Slow Learners

Being one of the Lord God's more dim witted sheep, I very much appreciate His longsuffering mercy.  One of the ways He reveals this is in offering themes in sequence.  And at some point in the sequence I begin to thread the gems together by a bit of pondering.  A lesson or final conclusion is revealed in time, not at the outset.

One of the latest themes was all about stars.  

Each night when the bedside lamp is put out, a galaxy appears on my ceiling.  The glow-in-the-dark stars were in place when we moved in.  I enjoy these briefly before sleep overtakes.  They first and foremost bring to mind a sweet memory shared the first time I encountered a similar ceiling.

Recently a conversation with Small Lad about stars took place.  We talked about The One who placed the stars in the sky and who named them all.

There was also a reference to stars in the night sky in an email from one Beloved who lives a life of stressful, demanding days.  Yet the calm and beauty of the overhead panorama did not go unnoticed.

But to this string of  bright little gems a glorious clasp was attached yesterday.    It was the grand concluding thought and point. My old dear friend George MacDonald wrote:

I looked up to the heavens once more, 
and the quietness of the stars seemed to reproach me.
'We are safe up here', they seemed to say;
'We shine, fearless and confident,
for the God who gave the primrose its rough leaves 
to hide it from the blast of uneven spring,
hangs us in the awful hollows of space.
We cannot fall out of His safety.
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold!
Who hath created these things
that bring out their host by number?
He calleth them all by names.
By the greatness of His might,
for that He is strong in power,
not one faileth.

MacDonald concludes with the question 'how can we think our way is hidden from His eyes?'

Night skies are awesome in their immensity and beauty.  We do well to appreciate all that.

But it is the awesome greatness of the Shepherd of the Stars of which we should make note.  Regardless of the hardness of our way, we are seen.  We too are named and held in place by our Creator God's unlimited power.

He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines and counts the number of stars;
He calls them all by their names.
 Great is our Lord and of great power;
His understanding is inexhaustible and boundless.
The Lord lifts up the humble and downtrodden;
...Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God.
~Psalm 147.3-7

We may be 'hung in the awful hollows of space but we cannot fall out of His safety.'

We are safe for we are held.

Reason to sing indeed!