Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turn Your EYES upon JESUS

What shall I post to send the old year out and bring the new year in?

One of my quirky, little habits is to type songs out as I go through difficult times; it helps me to meditate on the truths of God and although I know this hymn is not particularly theology rich, I found myself singing it over and over again as life's challenge's barraged our home this year.  It seemed to fit perfectly with the scripture I kept coming back to... "Be still, and know that I am God." 

At the center of all things is relationship.  First, and foremost, our relationship to God.  So elementary, yet so easily forsaken during trials if emotional nonsense is allowed a footing.  I had for so many years felt emotionally unconstrained and dishoveled in the mire of life.  I find it is at that place that Satan tempts me, at the end of each trial it always comes down to this question, "Do I trust you, are you who you say you are? Can I rest in a future unknown in the arms of a God all-powerful?  What be my choice? Obedience or disobedience? Do I stand in Truth or retreat with Error filled?"

Oh soul are you weary and troubled no light in the darkness you see? There is light for a look at the Savior And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting He passed and we follow Him, there
Over us sin no more hath dominion, for more than conquers we are.

Turn your eyes on Jesus, and Look full in his wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace

His Word shall not fail you he promised believe him and all will be well; then go to a world that is dying His perfect salvation to tell

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace

 For because [Jesus] has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus... And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidnece and our boasting in our hope.
-Hebrews 2,3

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Favorites of 2011

A couple of weeks ago I started a post, it won't be published, it was lists of 2011- what I'd read was one of those lists- I compiled it before I checked my shelves and notes.  This list is almost identical to that brain storm.  My thought, if it stuck in my brain, I must have liked it a lot.  I was reading, "Wordsmithy", my Christmas gift from E., and Pastor Wilson had a line in there that went something like - go for tonnage, something will stick.  That made me laugh- my tonnage is down from last year, I've been a bit busy, but is considerable more than my first set of mothering years, so at least I am headed in the right direction.
  1. Joseph and Judah - Dr. Warren Gage is E.'s teacher at Knox - he excavates truth in a mind twisting manner. This was a class text for E. last year, and he chose it as one of our personal studies, we are doing a study at church on it this January; it was also the Bible lesson for Summer Camp.  This book humbled me and really made me hungry to know how God and His grace and love is hidden in the stories of His Word.  I grew up in the church, I though I'd heard all the ways to look at the story of Joseph- No  I had not, not even close. 
  2. He is there, and He is not Silent - Francis Schaeffer is a wonderful writer and has a life that backs up Christian community like few others.  I read several books from both Francis and Edith Schaeffer this year, this is my favorite - practically every page has something underlined and some pages are almost entirely underlined. 
  3. Loving the Little Years - Lizzie Jankovic rivals and might have usurped Paul Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart which has been my go to book for years on loving little one's well.  I have a post of my favorite quotes on Loving the Little Years.  This book is amazing, Lizzie Janovic's writing style is enchanting - three things I hope will never dislodge from my brain- "Fat souls are more important than clean floors", "This is the new normal",  and "Obedience brings freedom and joy" which I have added to my obedience explanation for little ones - a talk I have quite often.
  4. Through New Eyes - James Jordan's solidified and explained thoughts that I had never been able to my finger on but knew I believed.  I really enjoy his discussion on chiaisms in a few sections.  This  book is in the neighborhood of GKC's Orthodoxy. a great read- Definitely on my "Read-it again and again" list.
  5. The Baptized Body - Dr. Peter Leithart discussion of children and their part in the body of Christ transformed my thinking, it deepened my resolve and humbles me as a discipler of the young ones in Him, I read this as we were preparing to baptise our grand-one, C., I am convinced that God works in little ones in a mystical, yet, concrete way that is soul changing and life bearing, a thought that I had, unfortunately, not dwelt on nearly enough.  Love this book, we read it, then I listened to it and re-read it while I listened.  This is a must read!
  6. Collected Poems- Richard Wilbur/Beyond Stateliest Marble, the Passionate Femininity of Anne Bradstreet- Doug Wilson/The Tenth Muse - Anne Bradstreet - O.K. - surprise -I love poetry and can't decide my favs -book  # 10 is a practicum book on poetry.  But these books were so enjoyable - probably because I naturally connect them to family.  My K. was awarded the Anne Bradstreet character award at her school, I loved Anne Bradstreet before that, she was an amazing writer, and yet, so centered in truth, she counted her role as wife and mother, as who she was; LOVE THAT!  The Tenth Muse - was therefore a gift for K. for her B-day - our copy is a recopy of the original,  it has Anne's handwritten poetry and letters to her kiddos, how cool is that? Beyond Stateliest.. is a wonderful biography of Bradstreet... Collected Poems of Wilbur - It's always on the nightstand bookshelf and I just love his poetry - one of my favorite poems, is of course,  "The Writer".
  7. The Art of Divine Contentment - Thomas Watson.  Mark Twain says a classic is something everyone wants to have read, but not to read.  This classic compels to be read.  Every time I began to read it, I felt that tingle, at the end of my nose, that reminded me tears were forth coming- and my heart was weighted with the fact that He is indeed the center of all things.
  8. Bless This Food - Julia Pitkins, Karen and George Grant.  The Grants have a whole series of these life books, this one is wonderful, love the encouragements, prayers and poems. My favorite recipes are the sweet potato casserole, angel biscuits and Beef shirtsleeves (I tweaked it a little to add E.'s favs - it was a Father's day dish). It is a great little cookbook for celebrating special days throughout the year- the normal ones, and B-days and holidays that I had never thought of celebrating.  I must admit when I first got it, after reading through it, I lamented to E. that there were so many great ideas I had missed out in preparing during K's little years - so disappointing. This book started me thinking about creating, its a great template... and now has my additions all in the margins - it spurred growth in our family traditions and I'm determined that our grands - will enjoy my better late than never learning curve.
  9. Tremendous Trifles - G.K. Chesterton is witty, funny, and the fact that the items he writes about are nonsense is charming. This book's chuckle factor is delightful.   
  10. The Roar on the Other Side- Suzanne Rhodes is an amazing poetry teacher, this book has wonderful exercises, poetry and most of all a great hook - you will love the first line.
 I have several more books - I'd love to put in this list, but then it wouldn't be a top ten. (If you're counting this is actually a top 12 - but then again - whose counting)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Giving thanks

My mom went in for heart surgery on Tuesday, they were going to put shunts in and clean out the blockage, which was everywhere, it was dangerous.  Funny thing happened on the table though, when the Doc got in there all the block places were no where to be found. God had answered prayers and healed my mom's heart.

It amazes me, how very personal, our God is, He guides us to the place to hold things loosely and then so often, gives them back, in that process we see the gifts of life through new eyes.

I am quite sure, that I will never understand the greatness and utter goodness of God until I see Him face to face.  When I think of how He works in each of our lives, my kiddo's life, my family's life, other brothers and sisters, and what of the christian that are in Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan right now?  How is it that He is the closest person to each of us and holds the world together at the same time?

Cowper's words come back to me from the Hymn God Moves is a Mysterious Way

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace...

God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Evening, December 15

“And lay thy foundations with sapphires.”

— Isaiah 54:11

Not only that which is seen of the church of God, but that which is unseen, is fair and precious. Foundations are out of sight, and so long as they are firm it is not expected that they should be valuable; but in Jehovah’s work everything is of a piece, nothing slurred, nothing mean. The deep foundations of the work of grace are as sapphires for preciousness, no human mind is able to measure their glory. We build upon the covenant of grace, which is firmer than adamant, and as enduring as jewels upon which age spends itself in vain. Sapphire foundations are eternal, and the covenant abides throughout the lifetime of the Almighty. Another foundation is the person of the Lord Jesus, which is clear and spotless, everlasting and beautiful as the sapphire; blending in one the deep blue of earth’s ever rolling ocean and the azure of its all embracing sky. Once might our Lord have been likened to the ruby as he stood covered with his own blood, but now we see him radiant with the soft blue of love, love abounding, deep, eternal. Our eternal hopes are built upon the justice and the faithfulness of God, which are clear and cloudless as the sapphire. We are not saved by a compromise, by mercy defeating justice, or law suspending its operations; no, we defy the eagle’s eye to detect a flaw in the groundwork of our confidence—our foundation is of sapphire, and will endure the fire.

The Lord himself has laid the foundation of his people’s hopes. It is matter for grave enquiry whether our hopes are built upon such a basis. Good works and ceremonies are not a foundation of sapphires, but of wood, hay, and stubble; neither are they laid by God, but by our own conceit. Foundations will all be tried ere long: woe unto him whose lofty tower shall come down with a crash, because based on a quicksand. He who is built on sapphires may await storm or fire with equanimity, for he shall abide the test.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening : Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Our eternal hopes are built upon the justice and the faithfulness of God, which are clear and cloudless as the sapphire. ... for he shall abide the test.

A sure foundation, our only hope, came as a babe to save His people from their sins.  How beautiful.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Hymn by John Milton

It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born Child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature in awe to Him
Had doffed her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize:
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.

Only with speeches fair
She woos the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw,
Confounded that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

But He, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace;
She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphere,
His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;
And waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.

Nor war, or battle's sound
Was heard the world around:
The idle spear and shield were high uphung,
The hooked chariot stood
Unstained with hostile blood,
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sov'reign Lord was by.

But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds with wonder whist
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whisp'ring new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

The stars with deep amaze
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence,
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warned them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord Himself bespake, and bid them go.

And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferior flame
The new-enlightened world no more should need;
He saw a greater sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree could bear.

The shepherds on the lawn,
Or ere the point of dawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they then
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.

When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet,
As never was by mortal finger strook,
Divinely-warbled voice
Answering the stringed noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took:
The air such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.

Nature that heard such sound,
Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia's seat, the airy region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was done,
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling;
She knew such harmony alone
Could hold all heav'n and earth in happier union.

At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light,
That with long beams the shamefaced night arrayed;
The helmed Cherubim,
And sworded Seraphim,
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displayed,
Harping in loud and solemn quire,
With unexpressive notes to Heaven's new-born Heir.

Such music (as 'tis said)
Before was never made,
But when of old the sons of morning sung,
While the Creator great
His constellations set,
And the well-balanced world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the welt'ring waves their oozy channel keep.

Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time,
And let the base of heav'n's deep organ blow;
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to th' angelic symphony.

For if such holy song
Enwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold,
And speckled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould;
And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

Yea Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will sit between,
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;
And Heav'n, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.

But wisest Fate says No,
This must not yet be so,
The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss;
So both Himself and us to glorify;
Yet first, to those ychained in sleep
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep;

With such a horrid clang
As on mount Sinai rang,
While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake:
The aged Earth aghast,
With terror of that blast,
Shall from the surface to the centre shake;
When at the world's last session,
The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread His throne.

And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins; for from this happy day
The old Dragon under ground,
In straiter limits bound,
Not half so far casts his usurped sway;
And wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail.

The oracles are dumb,
No voice or hideous hum
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance or breathed spell
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.

The lonely mountains o'er,
And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring, and dale
Edged with popular pale,
The parting genius is with sighing sent;
With flow'r-inwoven tresses torn
The Nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

In consecrated earth,
And on the holy hearth,
The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint;
In urns and altars round,
A drear and dying sound
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar Pow'r forgoes his wonted seat.

Peor and Baalim
Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice-battered God of Palestine;
And mooned Ashtaroth,
Heav'n's queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine;
The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn,
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.

And sullen Moloch fled,
Hath left in shadows dread
His burning idol all of blackest hue;
In vain with cymbals' ring
They call the grisly king,
In dismal dance about the furnace blue;
The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
Isis and Orus, and the dog Anubis haste.

Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian grove or green,
Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud:
Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest,
Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud;
In vain with timbrelled anthems dark
The sable stoled sorcerers bear his worshipped ark.

He feels from Juda's land
The dreaded Infant's hand,
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Nor all the gods beside
Longer dare abide,
Nor Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
Our Babe, to show his Godhead true,
Can in His swaddling bands control the damned crew.

So when the sun in bed,
Curtained with cloudy red,
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
The flocking shadows pale
Troop to th' infernal jail,
Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave;
And the yellow-skirted Fayes
Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.

But see, the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest,
Time is our tedious song should here have ending:
Heav'n's youngest-teemed star

Hath fixed her polished car,
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending;
And all about the courtly stable
Bright-harnessed Angels sit in order serviceable.

But wisest Fate says No,
This must not yet be so,
The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss;
So both Himself and us to glorify;

And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,

This is remininscent of Cowper's lines-

Behind a frowning providence
He hids a smiling face...

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in can;
God is His own Interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Isn't it amazing that a young girl trusted God when it looked as if her world would fall apart.  Heriosm is found in the most unlikely of places.  And of course, the Hero of all heros lie in her arms.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Signage around the house...

I am buried in laundry right now, I've gotten so busy making sure everything was done so we could enjoy the Advent season, laundry kind of slipped away from me.  I walked by a little sign I picked up a couple weeks ago and had to chuckle.
I like cheesy little signs and post 'em round the house, well mostly in the kitchen and laundry room, but I have a couple other places, too.  Here are my two favs-

Laundry - Ironing out Life's Wrinkles One Shirt at a Time.

In Our House
We do Second Chances
We Say Prayers
We Do Loud Really Well
We Give Hugs
We Do Love
We Are Family
But my very, very favorite:

Just Another Day in Paradise 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


What virtue, or what mental grace
But men unqualified and base
Will boast it their possession?
Profusion apes the noble part
Of liberality of heart,
And dullness of discretion.

If every polish'd gem we find,
Illuminating heart or mind,
Provoke to imitation;
No wonder friendship does the same,
That jewel of the purest flame,
Or rather constellation.

No knave but boldly will pretend
The requisites that form a friend,
A real and a sound one;
Nor any fool, he would deceive,
But prove as ready to believe,
And dream that he had found one.

Candid, and generous, and just,
Boys care but little whom they trust,
An error soon corrected?
For who but learns in riper years
That man, when smoothest he appears,
Is most to be suspected?

But here again a danger lies,
Lest, having misapplied our eyes,
And taken trash for treasure,
We should unwarily conclude
Friendship a false ideal good,
A mere Utopian pleasure.

An acquisition rather rare
Is yet no subject of despair;
Nor is it wise complaining,
If, either on forbidden ground,
Or where it was not to be found,
We sought without attaining.

No friendship will abide the test,
That stands on sordid interest,
Or mean self-love erected;
Nor such as may awhile subsist
Between the sot and sensualist,
For vicious ends connected.

Who seek a friend should come dispos'd
To exhibit, in full bloom disclos'd,
The graces and the beauties
That form the character he seeks,
For 'tis a union that bespeaks
Reciprocated duties.

Mutual attention is implied,
And equal truth on either side,
And constantly supported;
'Tis senseless arrogance to accuse
Another of sinister views,
Our own as much distorted.

But will sincerity suffice?
It is indeed above all price,
And must be made the basis;
But every virtue of the soul
Must constitute the charming whole,
All shining in their places.

A fretful temper will divide
The closest knot that may be tied,
By ceaseless sharp corrosion;
A temper passionate and fierce
May suddenly your joys disperse
At one immense explosion.

In vain the talkative unite
In hopes of permanent delight?
The secret just committed,
Forgetting its important weight,
They drop through mere desire to prate,
And by themselves outwitted.

How bright soe'er the prospect seems,
All thoughts of friendship are but dreams,
If envy chance to creep in;
An envious man, if you succeed,
May prove a dangerous foe indeed,
But not a friend worth keeping.

As envy pines at good possess'd,
So jealously looks forth distress'd
On good that seems approaching;
And, if success his steps attend,
Discerns a rival in a friend,
And hates him for encroaching.

Hence authors of illustrious name,
Unless belied by common fame,
Are sadly prone to quarrel,
To deem the wit a friend displays
A tax upon their own just praise,
And pluck each other's laurel.

A man renown'd for repartee
Will seldom scruple to make free
With friendship's finest feeling,
Will thrust a dagger at your breast,
And say he wounded you in jest,
By way of balm for healing.

Whoever keeps an open ear
For tattlers will be sure to hear
The trumpet of contention;
Aspersion is the babbler's trade,
To listen is to lend him aid,
And rush into dissension.

A friendship that in frequent fits
Of controversial rage emits
The sparks of disputation,
Like hand-in-hand insurance-plates,
Most unavoidably creates
The thought of conflagration.

Some fickle creatures boast a soul
True as a needle to the pole,
Their humour yet so various
They manifest their whole life through
The needle's deviations too,
Their love is so precarious.

The great and small but rarely meet
On terms of amity complete;
Plebeians must surrender,
And yield so much to noble folk,
It is combining fire with smoke,
Obscurity with splendour.

Some are so placid and serene
(As Irish bogs are always green),
They sleep secure from waking;
And are indeed a bog, that bears
Your unparticipated cares
Unmoved and without quaking.

Courtier and patriot cannot mix
Their heterogeneous politics
Without an effervescence,
Like that of salts with lemon juice,
Which does not yet like that produce
A friendly coalescence.

Religion should extinguish strife,
And make a calm of human life;
But friends that chance to differ
On points which God has left at large,
How freely will they meet and charge!
No combatants are stiffer.

To prove at last my main intent
Needs no expense of argument,
No cutting and contriving
Seeking a real friend, we seem
To adopt the chemist's golden dream,
With still less hope of thriving.

Sometimes the fault is all our own,
Some blemish in due time made known
By trespass or omission;
Sometimes occasion brings to light
Our friend's defect, long hid from sight,
And even from suspicion.

Then judge yourself, and prove your man
As circumspectly as you can,
And, having made election,
Beware no negligence of yours,
Such as a friend but ill endures,
Enfeeble his affection.

That secrets are a sacred trust,
That friends should be sincere and just,
That constancy befits them,
Are observations on the case,
That savour much of commonplace,
And all the world admits them.

But 'tis not timber, lead, and stone,
An architect requires alone
To finish a fine building
The palace were but half complete,
If he could possibly forget
The carving and the gilding.

The man that hails you Tom or Jack,
And proves by thumps upon your back
How he esteems your merit,
Is such a friend, that one had need
Be very much his friend indeed
To pardon or to bear it.

As similarity of mind,
Or something not to be defined,
First fixes our attention;
So manners decent and polite,
The same we practised at first sight,
Must save it from declension.

Some act upon this prudent plan,
Say little, and hear all you can.
Safe policy, but hateful
So barren sands imbibe the shower,
But render neither fruit nor flower,
Unpleasant and ungrateful.

The man I trust, if shy to me,
Shall find me as reserved as he,
No subterfuge or pleading
Shall win my confidence again;
I will by no means entertain
A spy on my proceeding.

These samples for, alas! at last
These are but samples, and a taste
Of evils yet unmention'd
May prove the task a task indeed,
In which 'tis much if we succeed,
However well intention'd.

Pursue the search, and you will find
Good sense and knowledge of mankind
To be at least expedient,
And, after summing all the rest,
Religion ruling in the breast
A principal ingredient.

The noblest Friendship ever shown
The Saviour's history makes known,
Though some have turn'd and turn'd it;
And, whether being crazed or blind,
Or seeking with a biass'd mind,
Have not, it seems, discern'd it.

O Friendship! if my soul forego
Thy dear delights while here below,
To mortify and grieve me,
May I myself at last appear
Unworthy, base, and insincere,
Or may my friend deceive me!
-William Cowper

I love the last three stanzas of this poem.  Friendships I particularly think of at this time of year, are those that have run long and deep through time, and difficulties and joys of life.  They are a blessing, a root of sorts, for our lives.  Our kiddos are growing up, two sets of our sweetest and dearest family friends, had big new this season as one kiddo got engaged and one headed to the mission field.  Oh my, my - how is it that life goes so fast, and truly what a dear delight it is to have sweet friends.

The noblest Friendship ever shown
The Saviour's history makes known,
Though some have turn'd and turn'd it;
And, whether being crazed or blind,
Or seeking with a biass'd mind,
Have not, it seems, discern'd it.

What a blessing it is to have friends to walk the through joys and sorrows.  And of course, when friends are few, and aches of life weigh on our shoulders and in the lines of our faces
- our Saviour's love is all the more discernable to us.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Merry Little Christmas

and sharing
Time slows down.
Talks and Readings,
Laughter and Old Movies
Kiddos and friends collected
God's gifts are good, all of them.
We celebrate the gift of His coming,
Stitching names on new one's stockings
With a swelling grocery bill and waist-lines,
Frosted sugar cookies and Merry Hot Chocolate
Music play as candles and a faux fireplace flickers
Tthe Nativity and Candles are center - on our coffee table
By remembering ...
and enjoying...
To Him
Glory is given
enjoyment by enjoyment.

Merry Christmas to all because He is our  All in all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Silly little poem I like...

What is Black?
Black is the night
When there isn't a star
And you can't tell by looking
Where you are.
Black is a pail of paving tar.
Black is jet
And things you'd like to forget.
Black is a smokestack
Black is a cat,
A leopard, a raven,
A high silk hat.
The sound of black is
"Boom! Boom! Boom!"
Echoing in a empty room.
Black is kind-
It covers up
The run-down street,
The broken cup,
Black is charcoal
And patio grill,
The soot spots on
The window sill.
Black is a feeling
Hard to explain
Like suffering but
Without the pain
Black is licorice
And patent leather shoes
Black is the print
In the news.
Black is beauty
In its deepest form,
The dark cloud in a thunderstorm.
Think of what starlight
And lamplight would lack
Diamonds and fireflies
If they couldn't lean against
-Mary o'Niell
I have read this poem several times out a a treasury I read to C. and occasionally just to myself.  What is Black? always makes me smile, pause and reflect.  I just like it.  I don't agree with all of it - but some of it is stellar - the last 5 lines, for instance -  or the the four line beginning "Black is a feeling" - and I love the 2 lines immediately following about licorice and patent leather shoes -  because it feels like yesteryear.  My very favorite part of the poem is the last 4 lines.  Now, there's a not so "little ones" - truth for ya- it usually takes long past being grown to even start to get a handle on that!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Apostasy doesn't sneak up on people who are keeping faith,  God is not in the business of cutting off sincere believers just for kicks.  He is not the wanton boy who tortures flies for sport.  He does not send faithful believers to hell at the last judgement.  He is kind and good, and merciful to those who have even the smallest grain of faith.  Those who enter the body of Christ in baptism, trust in and confess Jesus, seek Him in His Word and at His table, serve His people humbly, live in fellowship with brothers and sisters, seek to produce the obedience of faith - these have nothing to fear.  They are included within the "us" that Paul says will never be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus, and they are assured of that every time they hear God address them in word, in water, and in bread and wine.  If we are doing all the things that Jesus means by "abiding" in Him, we can be sure that we will be in the Vine to the end.  Faithful believers will not discover on the day of judgement that they were reprobate after all.  Happy marriages do not end in divorce.  God doesn't spring divorce on a faithful bride.

This is not self-trust, since all these forms of "abiding" in Christ are gift of God that are effective through the work of His Spirit. ...
...But we never come to the place where we mature from trust to works.  -Dr. Leithart, "The Baptized Body"
Have you ever had the conversation with a friend about whether they are saved or not.  I have some friends and several family members I regularly discuss the mechanisms of faith with.  This past week, a thought occurred to me for the very first time, "Am I one of His covenant children?" Strange thought - I know.  Growing up in an evangelical church with a decidedly Armenian bent, I often, maybe daily, asked the question, "Am I saved?"  Looking at that some would say that they are entirely the same question - however, they are definitely not, because the second one puts the oness on self and the first, on God. 
I am, by nature, pretty trusting, I trust God, so I don't really dig up truth to proof text the trust, rather, truth makes my trust in God deepen. 
Some people go from trust to truth, to deeper trust to deeper truth, and so on.
Others seem to really distinguish truth and error, from that believe God alone is true truth and therefore put their trust in Him - this then is the process God designs to  bring them to trust in Him.

All that to say, I had to laugh audibly when I read this today, trust can never be divorced from the object of that trust (duh!) The more we know of Jesus, we know His kindness and love, we see Him, and His efficacious actions and care of us. At the end of the day, if I asking if I am His child - then it is just one more "it's all about me" moment, instead of glorifying Him.  After all, it really is all about Him. Furthermore, the best dreams we can imagine are really just collateral little blessings of glorifying and enjoying Him.  Maybe we shouldn't be asking - where do I fit, maybe we should be asking - so, just how Big is GOD?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Curse of White Picket Pleasantry

When does life get easy?  

When does life get good?  
Life doesn’t get good.
It is good. 

Life, the gift reminds us through God glimpses – a two year old’s shocked smile and saucer wide eyes as he lays his hand on a helicopter he just prayed to find, the sideways smirk on the lips of a teen awakening to true truth, or the elaborately laid, labor ladened, far fetched dream of a grounded girl hoping for a chance at the 2016 Olympic team… these moments bode of life’s potential.  They are worth stopping for. These are the seconds that capture my breath.  They beckon my fingers find a pencil and journal - I remember and record the goodness of God in the joyful happenings of life.
Life, the gift reminds us through  God glimpses  – a discussion about hurtful, sinful words and actions; the wolf at the door that promises this time it won’t be fed to satisfaction; or the anxious moment of awaiting the worst feared, has indeed, come – the trials scream harshly, “run away, all is lost.” These are the moments that tear at my heart.  Theses crises beckon my voice find words and wind from the Origin, my Origin– I repentant and remember the sureness of God in the pain-filled ebbs of life.
The sweet Comforter, in this tops and turbulent life, whispers “Be still, know, I Am.”

I hate life mess, I still buffet against it.    My personality seems permanently predisposed to a Pollyanna-like perception.   My default mode has always been “white-picket fence pleasantry” since, well - as long as I can remember. Intellectually, I readily concede this is not only, not  possible- but  ridiculous. His, God's, plan is better than my picturesque perfectly picket-lined houses with dialogue and days lacking dishovelment and disagreement.  His beauty is seen in the disparity between the dark and light...that's why I keep those Ansel Adams pictures flickering - to remind me of truth.   I know, surer than any other thing in life -He is not only real but He is  there, here, and all I truly want and need.
The reality is…mess is here and everywhere, and scattered in throughout, and this world isn’t heaven… it isn’t perfect, yet.   The starkness of His beauty against ugliness of real life is so much more…than that plastic picture my mind so often reverts to as good. 

Nothing, not one thing separates us from Christ; and everything points to Him,  all the glimpses are pictures of Him.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Conquered Captives of His Omnipotent Love

Morning, November 15

“The Lord’s portion is his people.” — Deuteronomy 32:9
How are they his? By his own sovereign choice. He chose them, and set his love upon them. This he did altogether apart from any goodness in them at the time, or any goodness which he foresaw in them. He had mercy on whom he would have mercy, and ordained a chosen company unto eternal life; thus, therefore, are they his by his unconstrained election.

They are not only his by choice, but by purchase. He has bought and paid for them to the utmost farthing, hence about his title there can be no dispute. Not with corruptible things, as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord’s portion has been fully redeemed. There is no mortgage on his estate; no suits can be raised by opposing claimants, the price was paid in open court, and the Church is the Lord’s freehold for ever. See the blood-mark upon all the chosen, invisible to human eye, but known to Christ, for “the Lord knoweth them that are his”; he forgetteth none of those whom he has redeemed from among men; he counts the sheep for whom he laid down his life, and remembers well the Church for which he gave himself.

They are also his by conquest. What a battle he had in us before we would be won! How long he laid siege to our hearts! How often he sent us terms of capitulation! but we barred our gates, and fenced our walls against him. Do we not remember that glorious hour when he carried our hearts by storm? When he placed his cross against the wall, and scaled our ramparts, planting on our strongholds the blood-red flag of his omnipotent mercy? Yes, we are, indeed, the conquered captives of his omnipotent love. Thus chosen, purchased, and subdued, the rights of our divine possessor are inalienable: we rejoice that we never can be our own; and we desire, day by day, to do his will, and to show forth his glory.
-Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening : Daily readings
This reminds me of Donnes poem "Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God"
John Donne (1572-1631)

Holy Sonnet XIV:
Batter My Heart, Three-Person'd God
Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearley'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie: Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blow, burn and make me new.

He is the prime mover and we-not; we are but to respond to His irresistable love and work in us.  I have myself asked and I have friends struggling with wanting to grow up in all things - right now. But it just doesn't work that way.  God moves us through circumstance and time to grow us.  It is He that brings us to completion -

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why did God make you and all things?

"Because I like them... ("and" as Auntie prods with a smile) For his own glory."

I just read Susan's little cutie notes, and Trisha has tons of little blessings and it got me thinking about C. and his journey and my journey with looking for God's faithfulness in our children.

Two is my favorite age - hands down!  I teach twos, I love twos, they're fun and wild and full of wonder.  They are great! They trust so fully that it always amazes me and causes me to praise God, I can't help it, when I see their faith, mine is elevated.

Last night, C and I were zooming around the grocery store as we have guests coming and I was sale shopping.  I told him what we were looking for and we were chatting along.  Well, we couldn't  find the salad dressing ( silly me, I was looking for the words "salad dressing" not condiments - brain bubble) So we were laughing, surmising where those sneaky dressings might be and on the third trip around the store the signage finally hit me. Anyway, I zipped down the aisle and C.  screeched out, "The RANCH! THANK YOU JESUS for finding our ranch.  Auntie let's sing the Amen song. (we sang the Amen song- in our version we throw out truths about God and then say "sing it over") C. calls out "God is great. "(We sing the Amen song again).  An older gentleman on the aisle passes, smiling, I wondered what he might be thinking - I thought to myself, why would ever think God works more in the hearts of adults than children, I'm pretty sure I have that turned around and discombobulated. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Miniatures and Morals the Christian Novels of Jane Austen...

I opened last night - and I like it.  It promises to be a fun book.  I really enjoy Austen and Dr. Leithart's insights to Austen clearly states what I have nebulously tried to put my finger on for years. Hooray for people who can state things clearly.  I am not one of those people, but admire it greatly.  A few of my quote favs so far...
Syntax is character.  How someone speaks manifests the quality of his mind and character as much as or even more than what he says.
We begin to realize that men can be cads without kidnaping women and confininf them in dark towers, and women can be vicious without poisoning theit rivals.
Fun, my niece was actually reading "Pride and Predjudice" on her phone as I was reading the book.  Funny, this techno younger generation makes me want to have hope and throw it away at the same time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jehovah Jirah - The Lord Will Provide

The saints should never be dismayed,
Nor sink in hopeless fear;
For when they least expect his aid,
The Savior will appear.

This Abraham found, he raised the knife,
GOD saw, and said, "Forbear;"
Yon ram shall yield his meaner life,
Behold the victim there.

Once David seemed Saul's certain prey,
But hark! the foe's at hand;
Saul turns his arms another way,
To save th' invaded land.

When Jonah sunk beneath the wave
He thought to rise no more;
But God prepared a fish to save,
And bear him to the shore.

Blest proofs of pow'r and grace divine,
That meet us in his word!
May every deep-felt care of mine
Be trusted with the Lord.

Wait for his seasonable aid,
And though it tarry wait:
The promise may be long-delayed,
But cannot come too late.
I was flipping through my poetry journal Monday night and I stopped at The Wounded Spirit Healed, - love that one. This poem was in front of it and these lines sunk right into my heart knowin' I'd be needin' 'em this week for sure...

Blest proofs of pow'r and grace divine,
Wait for his seasonable aid,
And though it tarry wait:
The promise may be long-delayed,
But cannot come too late
I've just walked through one of those experiences that loom larger in your mind than in reality - God walked me through the tears and the restless nights and I, of course, find He was in the center all the time, just as I hoped.  I wanted not to doubt, to push away tears and sleep soundly, but I struggled.  Now, I  find myself looking back to say, "Why did it take so long to come to a place of rest?" 
I have this friend, she's a bit older than me, but nothing rustles her, she's always at peace, I want to be like that.  I've have grown in this area - I guess God doesn't start where we should be, but where we are and some of us have a lot longer roads than others.  It makes me happy to trust my daughter's road will be shorter than mine - and I can't wait to meet her children, if God so choses to bless her with them, and watch their roads and HIS provision through them.
In some ways, many ways, my daughter has a faith that is more mature, it is so different from where I started.  The place where faith originates matter.  Those in the camp 'man chooses God', have a long hard road, my daughter, by God's grace doesn't know that camp or road. She doesn't think in those catagories. My husband has been faithful to lead us starting with and to God's grace and God at the center of all.  I am thankful for his headship in this household.  I am thankful for the fruit I see in my daughter.  I am thankful that her road will look different than mine.
So, Three cheers to covenantal succession - I'll drink to that! And thank the Lord for HIS sweet provision... the Dos Equis in the back of my frig that's been waiting a celebration will be sitting at our dinner table tonight.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reformation Sunday

The thought one of my favorite quotes, "Are you content to be one snowflake in the blizzard of this life?" (ND Wilson)  collided with some underlining and written notes I was perusing today.
I had gifted "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hand" by Paul Tripp  months ago to my husband for some occassion or another. It was in his reading stack and one of my favorite things to do is to read through the highlighted and penciled comments in the books he's reading. This one fits to our thoughts on today a it is Reformation Sunday - the idea of being in a royal priesthood called to be a faithful defender yet numbered among the myriad of saints that have contended for the faith throughout hundreds and even thousands of years... many have gone before, many are to follow.

Your life is bigger than you ever imagined.  You live in one moment in time, yet you stand hand-in-hand with Enoch, Noah, Moses, Joseph, Abraham, Isaac, Jeremiah, Ezekial, Matthew, Peter, Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and generations of unknown believers who understood their place in the kingdom and did their part in its work.  Only as you keep this huge world in view will you be able to live and serve effectively in the small world where God has placed you.

 God gave some of these men a "heads up" on where they were headed - Joseph, Abraham, Paul - to name a few - but most often God doesn't layout life's blueprint for us, He calls us to be faithful in our little worlds... In our families, churches and communities.   In the daily doldrums, the Sabbath ruts, the part on part and stack on stack that accumulates along with graying hair.

I think too often these days we struggle with amnesia, God ordained his work to be accomplished through a holy catholic church not  a holy Catholic church- we are but one tiny speck in this march.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Planting Trees...

We chose the spot, we dug the hole,
we laid the maples in the ground to have and hold.
As autumn falls, to winter sleep, we pray that somehow in the spring the roots grow deep.

And many years from now, long after we are gone,
These trees will spread their branches out and bless the dawn.

He took a plane to Africa, he gathered up into his arms an orphaned son.
So many years from now, long after we are gone,
This tree will spread its branches out and bless the dawn

Sit down and write that letter, sign up and join the fight, sink into all that matters,
Step out into the light, let go of all that’s passing, lift up the least of these
Lean into something lasting – planting trees

She rises up, as morning breaks, she moves among these rooms alone, before we wake.
And her heart is so full, it overflows, she waters us with love,
And the children grow.

So many years from now, long after we are gone,
These trees will spread their branches out and bless the dawn.
These trees will spread their branches out and bless someone.
- Andrew Peterson CD "Counting Stars"
We just had quite a night with my college girl, K.,... she has her group over every Thursday night, and our curly q niece, R, joins in too - - - so much fun! 
I had lesson plans to write and laundry to put away - I thought I might skip out tonight, but I couldn't stay out of the living room, and somebody had to push food.  And, of course, these are the moments that don't wait.
Many years from now, in this house all alone, more laundry, dishes and lessons will wait, and I will be glad I chose to stop.  There were a few years, I barreled through everything, and rarely stopped to see what my little one was really doing, I am so very thankful, that God changed my viewpoint and put on the brakes several years ago.

I love this song, sometimes on tired late nights, I listen to it, and it reminds me, that all these daily moments are sacred moments.  I want to treasure them.

I just kept thinking,  as they, these college kiddos, were going point and counterpoint about Thomas and Augustine views of moral law -round robin they went - on theology - I just kept thinking -these ones are headed somewhere - amazing.   They will have homes and callings they'll be leading pretty soon - and before they know it - they'll be in my shoes looking back.

I look forward to the days when I get to watch, K and R's trees planting trees - if God gives me that many years.

These trees will spread their branches out and bless someone. 

This is the scripture I pray for my littlest grandone, C.

He is like a tree,
   planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
   and whose leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers,
                             Psalm 1: 3

We don't do it perfectly, we are always falling on His grace, and is only by and through His grace that we even stand - but, when we are faithless, He is faithful because He cannot deny himself.  So thankful for that.

And now on to lesson planning and laundry.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Small Beginnings...

“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.”

William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation
Good to remember going into this season of Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Words

I found a new poem today - "Table Talk".  Of course, its name caught my eye and when I read it - it now ranks with my favorite of Cowper's- God Moves in a Mysterious Way.

Much of it was wittingly scathing in regards to poetry - a fifteen page poem - it read like three. Amazing.
Some of my favorite line sets:

Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend,
And many a compliment politely penn'd;
But, unattired in that becoming vest
Religion weaves for her, and half undress'd,
Stands in the desert shivering and forlorn,
A wintry figure, like a wither'd thorn.
The shelves are full, all other themes are sped;
Hackney'd and worn to the last flimsy thred.

The gift, whose office is the Giver's praise,
To trace him in his word, his works, his ways!
Then spread the rich discovery, and invite
Mankind to share in the divine delight.
Distorted from its use and just design,
To make the pitiful possessor shine,
To purchase at the fool-frequented fair
Of vanity a wreath for self to wear,
Is profanation of the basest kind-
Proof of a trifling and a worthless mind.

'Twould thin the ranks of the poetic tribe,
To dash the pen through all that you proscribe.
No matter-we could shift when they were not;
And should, no doubt, if they were all forgot.

Cowper's wit and words are like barbed velvet.  They entrance and convict me at the same time.

But alas, my all time favorite of lines, unlikely ever to be usurped...

He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessing on your head.

Judge not the Lord in feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

A solid reminder in days of trouble...maybe he was reading Psalm 46

God is our refuge and our strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
  though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
  though its waters roar and foam,
  though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her,
    she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
   he utters his voice and the earth melts.
The Lord of Hosts is with us: 
The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
   how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes war cease to the end of the earth;
   he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
   he burns the chariot with fire.

Be still ...

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Contrary to nature, grace makes all sorrows sweet, and brings it about that a man no longer feels any relish for the things which formerly gave him great relish and delight.  On the other hand, what formerly disgusted him now delights him and is the desire of his heart-for instance weakness, sorrow, inwardness, humility, self-abandonment and detachment from all creatures.  All this is in the highest degree dear to him, when this visitation of the Holy Ghost, grace, has in truth come to him.
-Johannes Tauler(1300-1361)  Light, Life, and Love
This is an excerpt from The Library of AW Tozer.   It is a wonderful book, I picked it up at McKay's, one of our favorite places in town.  It has tiny, little, snippet biographies in the back.  I was trying to put the people in a timeline.  Tauler was German and proceeded Martin Luther by a hundred and fifty years and was well known for his sermons and writings and influenced Martin Luther. Meister Eckhart influenced Tauler, who was 40 years his junior.  Funny, I have never heard the names Tauler or Eckhart, but their lives impacted Luther.  And who hasn't heard of Martin Luther?

The ideas of grace, its theology, is central to how we view our faith.  Where is our faith centered?  What is its affect?  
Irresistible Grace is beautifully stated in Tauler's writing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

He sends Himself -"Jesus with Skin On"...

A friend sent this to me.  It made me cry and laugh at God's goodness and the joy He brings in "hopeless" situation.  I have a tough situation facing me this week, it is not even close to life and death...not on the same plane as these circumstances.  I was reminded while reading this story what my sweet boss, who prays at every turn for everything, says so often, "Sometimes you just need Jesus with skin on". Now thats body life in and by His Spirit!  Seeing God's provision for others reminds me of His providence in All things.
Prayer, persistence and the power of pregnancy centers are the theme of today's message. After speaking at a pregnancy center banquet in Michigan, I was sent this story from Grand Rapids. This amazing story shows what can happen when a 40 Days for Life vigil works with a pregnancy center to save lives that would otherwise become statistics. "This is the day the Lord has made," we read in Psalm 118. "Let us rejoice in it and be glad!" ------------------------------------------------------- GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN ------------------------------------------------------- A visibly upset young woman and her mother had just walked out of the abortion center where the 40 Days for Life vigil is going on -- and walked right up to one of the prayer volunteers. She had been advised to have an abortion because she had difficulties in her life. After a short discussion, the two women seemed interested in the offer of a free ultrasound at a local pregnancy care center. But there were two challenges. First of all, it was 8:30 in the morning -- and the pregnancy center wouldn’t open til 9:00. The volunteers decided to take the young woman and her mom to breakfast; that would help them settle down a bit, and it would let them wait until the doors were open at the pregnancy center. The second challenge seemed a bit more formidable. While an ultrasound MACHINE was available, there might not be an ultrasound TECHNICIAN available. So they all went to the pregnancy center to wait -- and pray. Within the hour, another couple arrived at the abortion center. They had been told to abort their baby because of possible disabilities. They had doubts about going through with it -- so they, too, were offered a free ultrasound. "Can you get us that ultrasound right now?" the couple asked. About the same time, yet another couple arrived for an appointment. They had significant financial challenges -- and they, too, had been encouraged to abort. "And yes," said the volunteer, "couple number three also wanted a free ultrasound." Meanwhile, back at the pregnancy center, a car had entered the parking lot. None of the volunteers recognized the car. A woman got out. They didn't recognize her, either. She walked over and introduced herself. "I'm an ultrasound tech and I have nothing to do today," she said. "Do you know of anyone that could use my skills?" "Seriously!" said the volunteer. "Just like that!" Three young women saw ultrasound images of their babies that day. And despite all the reasons each had been encouraged to abort -- they each chose life for their children. Each of these mothers has a long road ahead and many challenges to overcome. But they’ve taken a wonderful first step. Please keep them in your prayers, and ask Christ to guide them on their way. "Before I knew the difficulties of this day, God had planned for our needs to be met," said the 40 Days for Life vigil participant. "Three couples who had planned on ending their babies' lives today are still pregnant tonight. Praise God!" She added that the overwhelming feeling "is one of both personal humility and awe for our God who did so much today. What a blessing! We praise and honor the Creator tonight. He has done marvelous things!"
Link to the 40 day devotional

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Redemption through the mud and muck...

Isaiah 43

Israel’s Only Savior

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.

I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."
Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
 All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true.
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD,
"and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.

 I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and I am God.
Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?"
Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"For your sake I send to Babylon
and bring them all down as fugitives,
even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King."

Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
 "Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.

 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.

"Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
 You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,
or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
or wearied you with frankincense.
You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.

"I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
Put me in remembrance; let us argue together;
set forth your case, that you may be proved right.
 Your first father sinned,
and your mediators transgressed against me.
Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary,
and deliver Jacob to utter destruction
and Israel to reviling.

Put me in remembrance....

Do you ever journal prayers?  I do, often it is in times of transition when I don't understand where God is leading us, leading E.  I read a prayer this morning that I had written a handful of years ago, and had to smile.  I can say without exception, which shouldn't surprise me, yet, it always does, God is faithful to answer my requests more fully than I ever imagine. 

I look forward to looking back on this time, so I can see just what it is the Lord is doing, or at least to the parts that I am privy to.  What wonder is it to trust a God that loves us so intimately...Who deals with us tenderly and faithfully through the mud and muck of this world.

In every home, in every neighborhood, in every town or city, in every state, in every country, on each continent, God is there, not just waiting, not just watching, but loving, and working, and directing, and holding His beloved creation in His able hands.  Bringing us to redemption, reconciling those who are called to Himself, restoring to grandeur what was fallen, lost but never abandoned.

The twist of my brain, and tugs on my heart leave me longing to see God...I imagine when we are in heaven, we will sit around table laden with truly good food, we will tell of His goodness and then we will  unfold the stories of His wondrous work of our redemption.  His light will overwhelm us, and we will know fully His goodness.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The most effective kind of education for a child is to play amongst lovely things.  -Plato

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Hand That Made Us Is Divine

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun from day to day
Does his Creator’s power display,
And publishes to every land
The works of an almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
Whilst all the stars that round her burn
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings, as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball;
What though no real voice nor sound
Amid their radiant orbs be found;
In reason’s ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice;
Forever singing as they shine,
“The hand that made us is divine.”

–Joseph Addison

It is a great presumption to ascribe our successes to our own management, and not to esteem ourselves upon any blessing, rather as it is the bounty of heaven, than the acquisition of our own prudence.

Joseph Addison, The Spectator, Feb. 5, 1712
 I came across this poem in my reading last week, (It is available here to download - I'll eventually buy it) and I liked this quote so much I decided to find out about Joseph Addison. 
My visceral response to the words Mr. Addison penned was shared with another moment yesterday. We are presntly teaching our twos about the fourth day of creation.  There is something mystical when littles respond to "What else did God make?"  "God made all things" coming from tiny little mouths with shining baby faces - it always blesses me, it resonates the truth that He alone is center.  “The hand that made us is divine”- God made all things and we are to glorify him in joy, in expectation, in truth, in trust  whether in the surrounding dark clouds, benevolent bounty or somewhere mid mix.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just a thought...or two...

"One never gossips about the secret virtues of others." - Jan Comenius

"Sow an act,
           reap a habit,
sow a habit,
          reap a character,
sow a character,
          reap a destiny."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Father's Breast

Peace, be still.
God often gives us glimpses of Himself in daily life...He all about a good story. We understand stories, they speak to us in a way that reaches our heart and filters into the intellect. Sometimes we try to learn things the other way, but a story is almost always best for internalizing truth. Here's mine for the day...

Last night there was a ruckus at our house, our two year old grandnephew was overtired, distraught, and completely discombobbulated. His young Momma needed to get up early for work and had tried for two hours to get him to sleep with no success. C. was given the ultimatum, "Sleep for Mommy or you are going to sleep with Uncle Eggy and Auntie". He ended up between us in bed - we read a Bible story, said prayers and then he came unwound. We waited for the crying to subside, it didn't, after about 10 minutes, E. laid C., a sobbing little heap, upon his chest and patted his back firmly, steadily - coupled with the deep, calm "shhh" of his voice.
Within five minutes C. had calmed to a whimper and within another five E. and I were softly chuckling about his audible baby snores and when if might be safe to roll him over. Mayhem averted.

There is something about the strong, constant, gentle hand of a father - it brings peace, safety
, assurance - stillness.

Stephen Curtis Chapman has a song "Be Still" - I heard it for the first time several months ago and immediately downloaded it. It is beautiful.
Psalm 46:10 / Zec. 2:13
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is God
Be still
Be speechless
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know He is our Father
Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still
Be still

Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still

How much more does our heavenly Father love and comfort us in times of discombobulation and distress? His hand is steady, His voice is sure - He bids us "be still".

Monday, September 12, 2011

Porch Sittin...

Our favorite view - is the "front porch look'n in"!

As I meandered through town with my niece yesterday the porches caught my attention.  Some with worn furniture, some with the newest look and others with no sitting places at all. I wondered do people use these porches - do they gather there to love and laugh...To decompress the cares of the day?  I'm guessing our front porch gets more use than many, a byproduct of having a mini "girls dorm" of sorts.  It is where discussion moves later in the evening - where cordial glasses filled with red wine paired with billows of  E.'s fruit scented cigar smoke and candles set a stage.
What will the topic be today girls?
Boxing Matches?
Theology of Food and Celebration? (menu big at our house
Check Lists for Potentials?

Anyway,  two thoughts as my eyes peruse through the warm animated faces and over to the asian lilies buds, tall begonias, freshly blooming hydrangeas and flowerless but brilliantly green new Guinea impatients:

Ahh! I didn't water again....
             and more substantially...
The grass withers and the flowers fade but the word of the Lord stands forever.  - Solomon

For fun-
In the words a few country songs...This is "Good Stuff", it's "Just Another Day in Paradise
enjoying the sweetest view, our  "Front Porch Looking In".

Saturday, September 10, 2011


In some ways even though we have a household of six, sometimes I feel still like an empty nester.  My K. is now so busy with college, boxing and tutoring I rarely get to enjoy her.  The only substantive way I get to love on her is well, through sustenance. Today, she called to ask if I could get something ready as she was starving and ETA was 15 min. - in twenty minutes we were both happy.  Food is her love language and I love to cook - so it works out well.

Tonight, we hung out on the porch and she gave me the long version of a few of her classes, told me about barely missing the Ace on her first Anatomy and Physiology test and then, she read me a paper she wrote this week.  She proceeded to discuss its meaning and content.  I asked her if I could share it and she said yes. (I have deliberately not shared here about our work overseas but it being this  particular weekend I thought it apropos and  what she wrote puts darkness in its proper context.  Life's darkness is always a backdrop showcasing the brilliance of the one true Light) 

That being said, her writing never ceases to move me, and I always end up amazed at the bits of life God uses to speak to her. Glimpses of Christ's workings in a child's life is indeed, is a most  priceless, glorious gift and a favorite sustenance to this momma.

Reflections -
 September 8, 2011

Perhaps you’ve heard of Iraq. Perhaps you’ve heard a stiff collared, clean cut news reporter describe the car bombs and tribal strife and American lives lost. Perhaps you’ve even heard about that country’s notorious dictator and the hundreds of thousands he slaughtered. If you have, you know the land of my childhood. My parents did missions work in Iraq, and, as their daughter, I spent six of my most formative years in its obtrusive culture. In my tenth year, shortly after Iraqis deposed Saddam, I visited a newly opened museum. Amid all the horrors I saw that day, a hall way sobered me the most.

A forlorn Kurdish elder guided my family and me through the battered museum. He imparted that Saddam had used the sand colored, concrete structure as a prison. Bullet holes indented every square inch of the exterior, for as he relayed soldiers had used it as a holdout near the end of the war. As I walked, my eyes met bars, rags, and rubble. The guide took me to the torture chambers and described how men were strung up and electrocuted. Next, he showed me the cells, the concrete boxes into which throngs of men had been packed. Saved till last, the hall way seemed to promise reprieve.

Dark, long, and crooked, the hallway slithered out of view. As I stepped over the painted threshold, the black belly closed in around me, constricting me within its powerful walls. The darkness squeezed the air out of the room. To my relief, dim light pooled in lamps attached to the ceiling. The bowl-shaped lanterns so wholly contained the light that darkness yet obscured my slight waist and legs. Around me, on the satin draped walls, hung tiny, glittering shards — fragments of mirrors reflecting slivers of my image back into the darkness. A rough Kurdish voice broke my stupor: “Yhes, Yhes, zheese mirrors, see, zheese mean a dead, a dead killed by Saddam.” Understanding slowly cut into my dull consciousness — each sparkling piece represented a life Saddam had shattered. Gravity tore at my bowels, ripping them earthward. It shoved my shaking shoulders down, further down towards the floor. The weight of each Kurds’ death crushed me, as if each victim had joined me, squeezing into the narrow hall way. I later learned that nearly four hundred thousand shards must have surrounded me, suspended in that hall.

For the first time in my young life I understood. I understood the concepts philosophers ponder and laymen try to forget. I understood what it meant to be broken, to have the mosaic of your life shattered, to die. Here I stood, a story yet untold, a yarn yet unwoven, but how long would I remain whole? How long until I joined their number and hung upon the satin wall? Every shaft of light each piece reflected promised I would not long remain unbroken. The enclosing darkness seeped through my skin and extinguished the light of naivety that had once burned so brightly within me. I could not rage against the dying of the light — death and darkness had defeated me. The hall way and mortality were the only reality. But then a thought flickered in my weak and weary mind. Perhaps, thought I, perhaps these mirrored walls reflect beyond my shadowed face. Perhaps an image larger than my own, larger than the hall way, looks back upon me. These many broken pieces, I considered, imperfectly reflect the image of a living God and my piece, just as fragmented as the others, already hangs upon the wall, already reflects divinity. Surprised by the joy of life in death, I realized that the mirrors would not long remain broken. They would be forged anew, and the darkness would flee. Everlasting life awaited me.

Perhaps my experience that day impacted me so deeply because I saw more than a hall way. In a dark hall way, in a dark country, in a dark world, I saw my soul, and I understood that even in its brokenness the light of God shines forth, and that that light will never die.