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, June 30, 2013

When our Firstborn was at University, there was a point when she was struggling, bewildered over a distressing situation.  After the struggles, as is the usual way of things, came the answer and a clear path once again.  

Those were the days of pen and paper, before laptops.  I still have that letter and its words which have so often brought peace to her mum.  They are three small phrases from scripture, two from the Psalms, one from St. Paul's writings:

"My times are in His hands, 
my tears are in His bottle, 
so I'll press on."

Later on, her brother penned a prayer with the same theme:

"My times are in Your hands,
Your will has set the pace
of all my daily waitings,
Of my unending race.
In all I do and hope for
Please help me understand:
That you are God Eternal and my times are in Your hands."*

This is seems a common theme occurring again and again in the writings left by followers and pilgrims through the generations.

To this are some thoughts from George Eliot:

"We mustn't be in a hurry to fix and choose our own lot; 
we must wait to be guided. 
We are led on, like the little children, by a way that we know not. 
It is a vain thought to flee from the work that God appoints us, 
for the sake of finding a greater blessing to our own souls; 
as if we could choose for ourselves 
where we shall find the fulness of the Divine Presence, 
instead of seeking it where alone it is to be found, 
in loving obedience."

It is made clear, once again, that here we are - This Day and by Divine Appointment, to live out what He has in Eternity Past laid before us, before me.

And whatever it is, whatever form it takes, it is "a good thing".. and that because only good comes from our God's Wise and Loving Hand.

On This Day, the Truth and Promise of these words bring fresh hope,
    and strength,
        and comfort,
            and courage.

So let's you and I, Dear Reader, press on as instructed.

Psalm 31.15, Psalm 56.8, Philippians 3.14
*Jeffrey B. Davis - copywrited
George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) 1819-1880

Friday, June 28, 2013

Beware of letting your care degenerate into anxiety and unrest; 
tossed as you are amid the winds and waves of sundry troubles, 
keep your eyes fixed on the Lord, and say,

"Oh, my God, I look to Thee alone; be Thou my guide, my pilot;" 
         and then be comforted. 

When the shore is gained, who will heed the toil and the storm? 
And we shall steer safely through every storm, 
     so long as our heart is right, 
          our intention fervent,
                our courage steadfast, 
                      and our trust fixed on God. 

If at times we are somewhat stunned by the tempest, never fear; 
let us take breath, and go on afresh. 

Do not be disconcerted by the fits of vexation and uneasiness  which are sometimes produced by the multiplicity of your domestic worries. 

No indeed, dearest child, 
all these are but opportunities of strengthening yourself in the loving, forbearing graces which our dear Lord sets before us.

      ST. FRANCIS DE SALES ~ 1567-1622

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rambling with the children and Francis

My thoughts go rambling This Day.  Two of my children are doing their own rambling in the countryside of Assisi.  Funny how the mind plays tricks through imaginings.  Because of the simplicity of life chosen by Assisi's favorite son Francis, my mind conjured up a town, not a city, an unadorned outcropping in the Umbrian countryside.

Momentarily forgotten is the known fact that Francis was the privileged son of a man of great wealth and status.  That, of course, is why Francis's chosen life is all the more astounding.

Francis himself, because of his simple faith conveyed through his writings. He was not the simple peasant, almost cartoon character he has become, the statue in the garden with birds and beasts surrounding.  (I plead guilty here but only insofar as considering Francis a hero of the Faith. My garden icon is a reminder of the life of faith I desire.)

The world of thirteen-century Italy was like our own only more so.   It was a world driven by excess, by wealth, by blood-lust. Tyrants ruled both church and castle.  True followers of God could be burned or beheaded.  This was the world into which Francis was born.  Set against this background he shines even more brightly.

In our day, when we truly do strive to live simply - and we do fall very short of this goal - the life of Francis convicts.  But it wasn't just the toys and comforts of the world that make him a standout, it is the simplicity of his spiritual focus, his all-consuming, whole-hearted love of God and the Word of God. From that flowed his love for the world around him and for mankind.

This becomes increasingly the passionate desire of my own heart.  Far to go and much yet to learn, but hopefully, onward I go in this quest.

My heart is traveling with my children this day.  My prayer for them is that of great blessing, of a heightened, strengthened and renewed Faith as they go the way of Francis This Day.

I implore you,
Hold back nothing of yourself
so that He who gave Himself completely for you
may completely receive you...
Pure holy poverty
destroys the entangling desire for riches,
jealousy, anger and hatred,
and the cares of this world...
Pure, holy love

Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Locust-eaten Years Restored

Firsts are always memorable by right of placement.  You were the first born of the new generation of our clan, the first of the Grands to storm the castle of my heart and claim your territory.

You were my own little Hannah Lamb from the beginning (although a friend called you French Vanilla for her own reasons.)

We were neighbors in those earliest days.  We enjoyed snuggle times of giggle and delight.  I whispered secrets and sang hymns into your tiny sweet ears.  Those were days which I savored and pondered with thanksgiving.  They were days in which a tight, unbreakable bond was formed.

You were but a few months old when this changed, abruptly, without warning, crushingly.
Overnight my world was turned on its head.

Off you were taken to your father's homeland.  The horrible, painful wrenching of your loss was the  First Great Grief of my life.

Many days and nights, weeks and months that followed found me wandering in tears through the Psalms and Prophets searching for words of comfort.  Pages of the scripture were nearly worn out with waymarkers set up, bathed in tears.

With my whole being I lived in Ramah, with Rachel "lamenting with bitter tears for her children, and would not be comforted because they were not." 
I clung to the promises that followed and others that there would truly be a 'returning' and that there would truly be a future and a hope.  And the words of our Lord to Joel, that He would restore the years the locust had eaten. (Camped there.)

I knew then as I know now these promises were given to Israel's children, not mine.  But I saw too, this to be a picture of the ways of the Lord with His children in every age. So, in time I came to rest, and to hope in His faithfulness to His People, to His promises.

And He was!  He did!  Praise Him!

You were returned and we were able, you and I, to graft a new relationship onto those early roots.  We became friends, confidants, kindred spirits.

These newly restored years allowed me to be part of your courting days, your wedding and the marriage that followed.  I have been honored with the knowing, holding, loving of your own wee bairns.  This a blessing never dreamed of in the wildest longings of my heart so long ago.

Watching you pass through and mature in times of your own First Great Grief and the future challenges we could never have expected has encouraged and blessed.  I find myself being in awe, being very proud ("in the best sense") of the wise life choices you have made, of the way you support and encourage you fine husband, how you are lovingly leading and training your little ones to love and follow your Savior and God.  You truly are Superwoman, again in the best sense.

How grateful I am to our Faithful God, for your life, for your life touching mine.

It is with joy and delight that I wish you a very happy birthday as you turn one and thirty.  This, of course, is wrapped up in prayers and warm wishes for many blessed years yet ahead.

How dearly you are loved!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gran-Nan's Yellow Stuff, or "Just Curd, Please"

A simple dessert, humble and luscious with few and basic ingredients.  Very British.  Perhaps that is why it has become a family favorite and staple at family gatherings.  Or perhaps it is because it is so very tasty and I happen to love making it!

The original recipe, which through many makings I've tweaked a bit, comes from the Better Than Store-Bought cookbook.

Every cook has their version, Martha Stewart, Ina Garten included.  But this one I still think is the best, even with my own fiddling.

1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 stick (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon rind - zest without the white stuff
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk.

My first changes here - first of all I always double the recipe from the get-go.  I also add all the zest removed from as many lemons as are used.  More of that later.

1. In the top of a double boiler, combine the sugar, butter, juice and zest.  Stir over moderate  heat until the sugar melts.

This takes a bit so in between occasional stirring,  you can beat the eggs, which is step 2.

[The original recipe says to strain the eggs.  I now leave that till later when I strain the whole batch at the end of the cooking.  This is also the reason I add the extra zest]

3.  Once the butter and sugar have melted, stir the beaten eggs into the hot mixture stirring constantly.  

Cook over simmering water for 15 or 20 minutes - stirring often - until the mixture has thickened a good deal.  

[I have found a whisk works best.  And do stir frequently.  Otherwise you get a lemony eggy concoction.]

Don't fret.  It does become thicker as it cools. It only seems like you are stirring a long time.

Take from heat and strain the whole business into a jar or bowl.  Let cool then refrigerate.  Sealed, it keeps well in the fridge for several weeks.

I have also learned that if poured into clean jars, topped with hot lids (such as Kerr) it will seal tightly giving it a non-refrigerated shelf life.

Tip:  As I always double the recipe, I use 5 whole eggs now rather than bothering with removing the whites as in the original recipe. (What do you do with one or two whites anyway other than make meringues?  But that's another recipe.)

I have found that the whole eggs make the final product more delicate and lighter.

How should this delicacy be served?

It can be used as a cake filling or as a tart base.  

Dear friends put it bread, toast, English muffins or crumpets.  
That's the proper English way.

We generally serve it with plain or angel food cake and fresh berries.  Recently, it has been discovered that Trader Joe's Triple Ginger cookies are perfect for just dipping in and eating.  

But then there is also the acceptable way as little Great-grand Caity-Ru eats it - in a small bowl with a spoon.  Fingers work just as well as spoons, incidentally
And of course, it should be served with large pots of good tea.  Coffee if you must.

Make it and enjoy with my blessing!
When last here The Mom asked Little Lad if he wanted some ginger cookies "yes, and some of Gran-Nan's yellow stuff too.  Wee Miss said "just curd for me."
Better Than Store-Bought; Helen Witty, Elizabeth Schneider Colchie; Harper & Row, Publishers

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Brief Thoughts on Fatherhood

It's not about sweet first-step scenes on greeting cards, or Norman Rockwell playing catch illustrations.  No, fatherhood is about hands-on Reality.  This image from family archives is a favorite image for this - the dad, once again, helping to keep the college student's old beater running.

In our clan we have dads of all sorts and to me, all heroes in one way or another.  From the story reading, diaper changing young ones, to the one who daily through the years has faced with grace and dealt with the challenges brought by the uninvited guest of autism.

It comes down to the all important love factor.

Thinking back to my own father, I admit there were years of ungrateful youth where I resented him.  His ministry and jobs took him from home much too often.  Yet filtered by time, I have come to realize, absent or not, Daddy gave me the greatest gifts.

He was a Scot, and not given to demonstrative outbursts.  Yet in him I knew I had found complete and total acceptance for who I was "warts and all".  From him I received unconditional love.  Regardless.  I knew, too I was cherished and that all the steps of my days were covered by his prayers.

Much of fatherhood cannot be seen.  Rather it is demonstrated, it is simply given in acts of duty, by love unfaltering, unlimited, unending.

And through these, the youthful heart is prepared to accept Divine Love and the Fatherhood of his or her Creator God.

Praise Him!

Friday, June 14, 2013

You Might Have Know There'd Be A Book

Yesterday's post with the poem and bio bit on Dr. Samuel Hall Young led me on a Google search as he seemed such a fascinating fellow.

Among other bits and pieces I learned that in his early days as a young missionary pastor as well as young husband and soon-to-be father, he met John Muir, famous naturalist.  Muir had traveled to Alaska with three older Presbyterian leaders( rather hard nosed and stiff collared) and their wives.  The later were checking up on their young missionary.  On meeting the group, Young was at once drawn to the Scottish naturalist.  They formed an immediate bond and set about making quiety hiking plans.  

In order to free himself for his adventure with the older Muir, Young set up the watch-dog trio in meetings with local First Nation chiefs that he, Young, had been working with in his missionary and church building venture.

The book is Young's remembrances of those days. The account is delightfully readable.  Young was first and foremost a lyrical, spiritually sensitive poet as well as a keen observer of people and the created world around him.  He is a skilled wordsmith.  One is given not only a glimpse into hischaracter and sweet nature, but  also a lovely picture of Muir the man.

Now the book is readily only found in paper back form.  The original hardbacks are out of print and mostly costly.  But the happy news, it is a free download on Kindle.  [Amazon is my friend!]

So, my encouragement is this - if you are an adventure lover and/or if you enjoy reading character studies of noteworthy men, this is the read for you.

Just saying....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dr. S. Hall Young at age 78

Dr. Young (1847-1927) was a pioneer missionary (Presbyterian) in Alaska.  His heroic life of service in the North is the stuff of legend and inspiration.  His death is one of those inexplicable events that only Eternity Future will reveal.  He was struck and killed by a car in Clarksburg, West Virginia the year after this photo was taken on the docks  in his beloved Alaska.

Among those papers he left behind are these lines of an unfinished poem:

Let me die, working.
Still tackling plans unfinished, tasks undone!
Clean to its end, swift may my race be run.
No laggard steps, no faltering, no shirking;
Let me die, working!

Let me die, thinking.
Let me fare forth still with an open mind,
Fresh secrets to unfold, new truths to find,
My soul undimmed, alert, no blinking;
Let me die thinking.

Let me die, laughing.
No sighing o'er past sins; they are forgiven.
Spilled on this earth are all the joys of Heaven;
The wine of life, the cup of mirth quaffing.
Let me die, laughing.

I do so wish he had been able to finish writing down his thoughts.
And yet, here is enough to ponder and take to heart This Day.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Blessed Childhood

It's all about books again.

One of my favorite and most cherished blessings, looking backward to childhood, was a mother that read to us.

Mother's plan was, it seems, to offer us the excellent while providing the good.  The rest we would discover for ourselves in our own time.

Scripture was first.  King James, of course.  It was through that I learned to read.  Twice a day after meals, a chapter would be read, each person at the table reading two verses in turn.  Mother would guide her finger under the sentences being read.  As I began to recognize words I would be permitted to read them aloud.  First the articles, the conjunctions and finally the words that moved the narrative.

To this day I thank all those patient, older folk around that table allowing a small child such experience.

Then there was Pilgrim's Progress.  Again, original, nothing simplified or diluted here.  I well remember evening hours by the fireplace, listening as mama read to Brother Dearest and myself.  We weren't always the most attentive audience.  We sometimes giggled at the character names and invented our own silly nicknames.  What I do not remember is being scolded for this nonsense.  Much to my mother's credit.

There were the heroic missionary accounts such as those of John Paton, Henry Martyn, Hudson Taylor and Mary Slessor.  I wonder how many of today's generation even know these names?

Among the books provided, were the Frank Baum Oz books which frankly frightened me by their seemingly scary illustrations.  Haven't read these to this day.  Don't even like the movie. 

The twin books of Lucy Fitch Perkins, now, these were among my favorites. I wish I could remember more titles.  I do know they would most likely not be among those familiar to today's readers.

What I do remember is the loving prompting by deed, by example, to makes books an integral part of life's journey.

To this day I still thrill to missionary accounts.
And I can still see in my mind's eye the illustrations in the various twins books.

It is delightful to remember....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Never Forsaken

What a glorious thought!
What a comfort it brings!

Scripture has numerous statements concerning this fact:  that those who seek Him will never be forsaken by Him.  In one such passage the Amplified renders this word to include:

"I will not in any way fail you 
nor give you up 
nor leave you without support.  
I will not, I will not in any degree 
leave you helpless 
nor forsake 
nor let you down 
or relax my hold on you!  
Assuredly not!"

Could there be any clearer way to state the Fact?
Can there really be room for doubt?

And how can we be certain of this?
Because "forsaken" was among all those things nailed to our Lord's cross then buried with Him that we might be freed from the grip of that devastating feeling of alone-ness.
Our Lord cried, He was forsaken by the Father that we might know we never will be.

This was a fresh thought to me and it has carried me in the days since I heard it.  It was just a quick 'aside' in a Sunday sermon but it penetrated my heart with the  quickness of an arrow finding its mark.

Yet one more beautiful thing for which to be grateful.  
One more 'nail in a sure place.'

I am clinging tightly to this today, not just for myself, but for dear ones that are in the midst of a great and frightening ordeal.

Oh the riches that are ours in Christ Jesus!
May we never forget.

Thank you, Pastor Kris.   

Monday, June 3, 2013

An Incident and a Sermon

Such a simple concept, this.  The sign says, the sign points, that's the way to go.

Our pastor has begun teaching from the apostle Paul's letter to the Galations.  This was not a city church, but a group of gatherings.  These were early church times, all was fresh and new.  Yet in very strong language, Paul admonishes.

In one of the newer scriptural translations it states "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ...."  How could those early believers who were taught by eye witnesses, who had parchments available with the ink barely dry, get off the path?  (she asks smugly)

"A different gospel", a "gospel contrary" - that's what these in the early church were following.

We are so quick to pass judgement.  We just as quickly forget that we are careless and unwise in our own day, in our own lives, in our own walk of faith.

Our pastor reminded us that the gospel, the good news of Christ's death, burial and resurrection is all of Grace, but nothing and about God's unconditional love, which can be neither bought, earned or fathomed.

The least things we add or subtract from these great, clear and simple truths forms 'another gospel'.  Doing or not doing on our part only detracts and perverts.  Anything we add or subtract leaves us with no gospel at all.  Our carefully constructed creeds and belief system is as useful in the spiritual and eternal realm as a house of cards in the physical and temporal.

These thoughts were clarified and amplified by a situation that occurred on our recent trip.  Traveling in an unfamiliar city, we found ourselves just like the above, going  the wrong way on a one way street.

"It is dangerous stuff to go the wrong way on a one way road" our pastor reminded us.  Whether physical or spiritual that is a literal truth.

But for us on our journey, there was a touch of uncommon grace.  As we pulled the car to the side of that one way street, facing the wrong direction, a woman, going the right way, seeing our dilemma, pulled along side, rolled down her window and said "I'll stay here and block the way so yu can back up and turn safely".  And so we did.

We are left with this perfect illustration of what our calling should be.  Whether in the world or the church, when aware of another's wrong direction, we are to stop and assist, blocking the wrong way if necessary to provide safe redirection for the one in danger. We can only do this if we are traveling the right direction on the One Way.

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen"  Galations 1.3-5

Translation of the scriptures, the English Standard Version.

Milestones, Ending Well, New Beginnings

It has happened. One of life's occurrences you don't even think about ahead of time. The last of the Grand-Lads has graduated High School.  Actually, the last of the Grands in total, for that matter.

High School graduations are nothing special, I know.  But just sometimes the facts fly in the face of that general statement.

This one was special because the Lad Himself is just that. Ordinary ease with schooling has not been his lot.  Diagnosed in his young life with an autistic label, similar yet different from his older brother, our lad has had challenges all along the way.

However, by the Grace of God, wise and patient parents all his years, plus mentors and therapists, -all of these amazing -  he has graduated. 

Now the best part:  he graduated with honors! He recieved the president's award for achievement, plus awards in history and math.  That last one is a puzzlement.  Math is not a strength in this family, rather it is generally seen dangling by a very thin thread.

If all these weren't blessings enough, he is a good kid.  He is Southern proper-polite, owing to a Southern mom of gracious bearing and he is funny, perhaps in large part from a clever and witty dad.

So it was our great pleasure to travel to take part in this history making milestone.

Added to this, was our lad's choice to be baptized, stating to the world that he desires to follow his Savior all the days of his life.  He honored his grandpa by asking him to do the honors.  The event took place in a family friend's backyard swimming pool.  Special friends, church family and blood family witnessed.  It was simple but so meaningful.  Both of the grandfathers took part, one in the water speaking the ancient words of Christian history, plus others of personal import.  The other grandpa, at the edge of the pool, praying a prayer of blessing onl our Lad for all his days ahead.


And so, this post is just about family, events ordinary, yet extraordinary.  All touched by Mercy and great Grace.

 Additional photos of this adventure:

The Mom who loves unconditionally , who teaches tirelessly and well:

The Dad who supports in every way, who is loving and steadfast:

The elder brother who has gone before and left his good crumbs on the trail to follow:

Where will the trail end?  That is written in Eternity Past and not for our knowing in the Present.  But we are thrilled with the choices, with the beginning our Lad has made and are humbled and so very proud of him and his family. We know that our faithful God will lead in the future as He has the past.  He has promised us that and we know it is true.

In the meantime, our hearts are full.  We are grateful beyond telling.
Praise Him!