Monday, September 29, 2008

A Psalm for the Morning

Oh, Lord, my shield, my refuge, my strong tower;
Oh, Lord, my joy in each morning, my peace in every evening;
Oh, Lord, my Redeemer, my Savior, my King and my Friend --
I bow before You with heart-filled adoration and love.

Forever I shall come to You in worship, in love,
Desiring Your mercy and kindness,
Longing for Your presence;
For there is none beside You who is Truth and Love, pure and holy, merciful and gracious,
Gentle and long suffering, Almighty and everlasting.
You alone are God most high.

May Your praise fill my lips and my heart.
May You be glorified this day in my life.
Throughout this earth, in every place, may Your Holy name be praised;
May Your people honor You with their hearts, their lives.

You are God, all powerful, all knowing;
Ever caring, ever merciful;
Always just, always true.
Your kindness and care know no bounds. Your love is established and true forevermore.

In You, Oh God, do I place my trust;
In You do I hope.

Come this day and show Yourself strong.
Come this day to destroy the work of the enemy of Your people.
Come this day and reign over all.

May Your will be accomplished today in this earth,
In this nation,
In this home,
In this heart -- my heart.

Oh, my God, I will love You forever. Amen.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Field Trips in History

American Romanticism, ushered in by author David Fenimore Cooper, has currently swept The Sinclair School of Fine Arts. Yesterday we brought our imaginations to a whole new level as we traveled to Fort William Henry on Lake George, and then on to Fort Edward to visit the Old Fort House Museum.

I'm not necessarily a hardcore fan of romanticism (typically not at all my favorite.) Well, all right, I do like that sappy Austen stuff (that's chic flic romanticism at its best), I loved reading The Scottish Chiefs, and pretty much anything Dickens penned intrigues, but still, I would not consider myself a fan of romanticism. (Do you suppose I am delusional?) One thing I know for sure: I absolutely relish the history of colonial America. And our current study of The Last of the Mohicans gives me plenty to enjoy.

The story of Hawkeye and the Munro daughters is set in August of 1757. Here we were, one month and 251 years later, traversing the same territory, viewing the same dramatic skyline from the foot of Lake George looking northward, standing atop the fortress parapet. Our Indian tour guide pointed to the west. "Right over there, just beyond those trees, was the French line. Montcalm's troops filled those forests." I imagined the coolness of the nighttime cover followed by the mist of the morning as it moved across the lake with the sun's rays dispersing the shadows. What fateful movement that proved to be.

Our characters' travels began a bit further south at Fort Edward. The fort's structure is no longer standing, but the town itself boasts great history. We found ourselves finishing our day's tour of this region at the Old Fort House Museum.

Totally charmed, I could have remained there for some time, lost in imaginative thought after discovering the rich history of this particular home. Built in 1772 by Patrick Smyth, this dwelling, once an Inn, was twice frequented by George Washington himself, once as he traveled north to attend to some duties and again on his return (could it have been a trip to Fort Ticonderoga? One can imagine!) A simple upstairs bedroom had been home to a freeman who was captured and sold as a slave. He won his freedom 12 years later with the help of a lawyer from Schenectady who learned of his plight. His interesting story is recounted in his book, 12 Years a Slave. (I will be ordering that one today!) Timbers from the original fort had been confiscated from the ruins to build the foundation of this historic home. As we toured the various rooms our hostess identified a portrait of a local citizen alleged to have murdered his wife, explained the use of artifacts dating to the 1700's, and told the saga of Jane McCrea and other local citizens whose lives were fascinating simply because they had lived their lives right here in this community, this "once upon a time wilderness".

History is God's story woven through the ages, one life tied to another, strung upon the frame of this world's loom. We live, we die, some for a shorter season than others, but in reality we all are but a vapor. Still, what we do touches the future. We are a thread in the tapestry.

May my life be used by His Hand for wonderful purpose. It is dedicated to Him.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yesterday was a sabbatical -- well, some work was done but only what could be accomplished while sitting in a chair. It just worked out that way. I was too wiped out for much physical labor.

Today was another sabbatical -- one of those killer headaches sneaked up on me and spoiled all my plans for making up yesterday's work. Another day off. So...

...tomorrow needs to be very productive. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Johannes Tribute

This young man was sent our way in July. He left today to return home to Germany.

He amazed us in many ways over and over again.

While here he ran two 5K races, winning 1st place in his division, then 1st place overall. He had never run a race before.

He played his first baseball game. Although this sport has gained popularity in some areas of the world, it is not a familiar sport for Europeans. At his first at bat, he connected solidly with the ball. As it soared into the outfield, he ran to first -- and kept right on running to the outfield. No one told him how to run the bases. I suppose they didn't expect such a solid hit from this novice!

He tried his hand at tennis, flag football, and backyard volleyball, showing his athletic skill in every venue.

One Sunday morning shortly after his arrival the worship team gathered for practice only to learn that the bassist that day was not able to make it. Johannes saw the need and was soon conscripted, somewhat willingly, I might add. He was amazing! We loved his bass playing.

In our music room Josh took his usual spot at the piano and began playing some jazz standards. Soon Johannes slipped onto the bench next to him, filling in the chords with great melodic lines, creating fun rhythms and tunes. What a great jazz pianist he proved to be!

Day in and day out, an ongoing summer project was needing work. Every spare moment found Johannes up on our tin roof, grinding, priming, or painting. For hours on end, he determined to see sections finished before calling it quits that day. We were all incredibly blessed by his servanthood, both in example and accomplishment.

As soon as he arrived, I found him regularly standing by my side in the kitchen, cleaning dishes as I cooked, stirring soups when I was called to the phone, lifting the large pots to empty them. During meals he refilled the water pitchers, condiments, casserole dish -- whatever needed attention was cared for without request from me. If there was something to do, he did it; here was yet another example to all of us of true servanthood. Johannes had determined to be a part of what we were doing and did not shirk or hold back.

Intelligent and talented yet humble, ready to share, non-demanding, thinking of others first, always pleasant, never complaining. These characteristics mark this young man of God. I am wondering and waiting to see what our Father in Heaven has in store for such a one as this.

"Lord, may Johannes find his purpose and plan bound up in his love for You. As he seeks You, may Your paths open to him. Use this precious young man; teach him Your ways that he may prosper all of his days, that Your kingdom may come in his life. Thank you for these few short weeks together. May all You did in his heart while here in our midst remain. May the seeds planted bring forth abundant life. And may we meet again. Amen."

Monday, September 22, 2008


"Lord, let me be pregnant with vision from You."

I discovered these words penned in some old notes. They gave cause for reflection.

Life is brought forth only after a season of pregnancy. Conception occurs, nourishment is provided, time is allowed -- then life comes forth.

If we want to be productive Christians, those who bring forth life, we must have vision. Scripture tells us that apart from vision we perish. At the ripe ol' age of 53, I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel. Well, some days I actually may feel like it, but I am determined that I will not do so. That is most definitely not His will for me!

So these words gave reason to pause and consider. It was simply a simple prayer. It was not mustering something up on my own (the Lord knows I am too weary for that these days.) It was not deep, time consuming study (although He may use that along the way to impart vision.) It was not even beating my head against the wall (that's easy enough to do, but it doesn't provide great results.) It was simply a simple prayer.

My God delights in giving life of all kinds. He is the Creator of life. Apart from Him, there is no life of any sort. He is the provider of not merely life, but abundant life.

Life in human form. Life in spiritual form. Life in visionary form. Without it we perish. He therefore provides it -- abundantly.

A woman does not get pregnant by sitting in her room praying. We all know how it works (well, we also know there was an exception -- but that was most definitely an exception.) There is an established law: life begins with conception. If we want to be pregnant with human life, we must be involved in the practice of human conception. If we want to be pregnant with vision, we must likewise be practicing the conception of vision. Read the Word, spend time in His presence, meditate on His truth. And pray. Vision will be imparted.

I need fresh vision. If you know me, you know that I am typically full of vision. Maybe that prayer from so long ago is needing renewal.

"I am here, Lord, willing to hear from You. Take me, use me, send me, leave me. Do what You will with me. I want to be Your vessel, filled with Your Spirit, Your vision, Your life.

Lord, let me be pregnant with vision from You. Amen."

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Today we celebrated my father's 80th birthday. My family is not accustomed to sharing accolades. Growing up, words of praise were more than scarce. They were unspoken, except when my folks would boast to others of a child's accomplishments.

So as my dad sat in the seat of honor, with all eyes on him, receiving applause, genuine words of appreciation, and some tears, he basked in the love and acceptance. So did my mother. Their souls, existing for multiple decades in this unkind, broken world, were thirsty for affirmation; they soaked it all in. A few of their own tears were brushed away, and I sensed their hearts were softened a bit more. "Lord, touch their hearts, open their eyes to see the wonders of Your boundless love. Amen."

I'm tired now. Preparing a meal for this household plus relatives from out of town is a task. Not overwhelming anymore, I must admit. After recently feeding 100+ for two consecutive Sundays, this seemed simple. I didn't even start planning this meal until yesterday afternoon. After all, there would only be 25-30 people. ;)

None the less, tired I am, so hubby and I crawled into bed early. Below us in the music room we soon hear the voices of several young people tuning to the strains of a popular hymn, "It Is Well". Tomorrow morning's special music is being rehearsed. My heart is warmed. Nothing pleases me more than to realize that they love each other and want to work together. I don't know exactly who is singing, except that Johannes, our house guest for the past two months, is among them. This will be his final Sunday with us -- he returns to Germany Tuesday. That is sad for all who reside here at 1942. What a fine young man he is. I can't help wondering if he will be back someday. He has been knit to our hearts. One must invest freely. There is great fruit in so doing.


The gardens are slowly gaining order once again. After the boost from some dear friends who weeded and trimmed one large island garden, I gained fresh inspiration. Every spring I determine that I will be a faithful tender of the yard in the fall as well, but when this season arrives I am always engrossed in school and fall cleaning. But, thanks to them, I am getting some fall gardening done.


Life sweeps over, around, under, taking you along. Days flow by endlessly, seemingly. But we all know they will end one day. We all know that each day brings change, growth, aging.

Eternity. Yes, that's the ticket for me. I'll take that one, thank you.


How good and faithful You are, O Lord of Hosts. How I trust in You for this day and all yet to come. I am thankful for people in my life, for the treasure of shared fellowship, the beauty of love expressed. This has been a full day, a blessed day, a day made by You for You. Thank You for Your wondrous generosity to me. I stand in awe and gratitude. Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Weighing In

Many folks are writing/talking/debating about Sarah Palin. Christian folks, in particular, are contemplating issues of womanhood, parenting, "keeping home", etc. Here are my current thoughts (borrowed from a comment I wrote on her blog) regarding Sarah Palin's personal choices as a homemaker, wife, and mother.


We can unequivocally state that a woman needs to build her home (Prov. 14.1, Proverbs 31, Titus 2). The homefront is under constant attack, being stripped of its vital position of refuge. How many young people visit my home -- a simple home where a family is intact and love is practiced -- only to realize that they themselves have not truly experienced "home"? What a sad revelation this has been. But it makes clear to me God's plan: a home should be a hub of ministry, and in this broken culture, a home that is "ministering" health and love shines like a beacon. We need to see solid Christian homes on an exponential increase.

We can also safely say that children are to be trained, nurtured, protected, and brought to maturity (see entries on Loving Your Children). Sadly, in our society, children no longer are considered an appropriate primary investment -- parenting is something we do on the side, after fulfilling our own dreams and success. This is not God's best. No matter what you do all day, your children's needs must have top priority in your choices. God gave those very children to you for a purpose; faithfully nurturing them in the love and admonition of the Lord is not to be considered optional.

These ideals have been somewhat lost in the shuffle as feminists pushed to the front in an effort to gain certain equalities (not all of which are bad.) It's true that we must get things back in proper order.

However, the means for specifically reclaiming hearth and home for family and children is something each individual is responsible for before God. Recognizing the need to build a home and invest primarily in children is essential -- how it looks will vary.

As for the specific situation regarding Sarah Palin, let me point out that we are not trying to determine her correctness as a Christian woman in her choices for building her home and nurturing her children. She is not running for the Mother of the Year Award. Instead we are being asked to vote for the candidate most able to govern steadfastly with Godly principles (at least that's the question asked of Christian Americans, in my estimation) -- and from what I have seen so far, she faithfully upholds Biblical principles.

I may personally hold concerns regarding her choices (and her husband's) of management of their home and family, but that is not the concern put before me. She is not looking for counsel from me regarding such issues. Her pastor can handle that. She is looking for my vote, she is running for office whether I think she should or not, she is faithfully representing the things I consider to be important, she is gifted (by God) in leadership and administration, and I don't doubt for a moment that all of the other men I've voted for in the past have also made questionable decisions regarding the way they function as husband and father -- decisions that I may not consider to be of sound judgment.

The things being discussed are not issues of character, nor are they black and white imputations. Debating and arguing her justification and qualification based on personal choices that are not blatant sin is out; it's non-applicable.

That brings us to the only substantial difference, and it's a big one: she is a woman. Therefore the question for me, as a follower of Christ, becomes this: is it absolute sin for a woman to be in such a position? I'm not convinced, at the moment, that it is.

I am, however, convinced of this: it is absolute sin for a life created by God Himself to be killed outright. That life, being knit together by His own Hands, is invested with a destiny that I cannot know or comprehend. It is an eternal soul that He desires and loves. On that I cannot waiver, I will not waiver. On that I can vote conclusively and confidently. And I might add, on that I will vote confidently.

Just some thoughts... It's a lot to sort out, and sort we must! The election is right around the corner and time is running out on this one.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Choices -- Always...

"Wow! This is so incredibly dirty under here. When was the last time this was cleaned?"

The question comes my way -- whether innocent or accusatory, who can say. But my immediate response is to feel guilt, failure, incompetence.

Then almost as quickly these days (after years of learning you would think it would be instantaneous, but "quickly" is still an improvement) I sort through the "why and wherefore" (as Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, wrote in "HMS Pinafore") and come to some conclusions.

1.) Certain things are still not habit for me. Minimal housekeeping skills were taught and learned as a youth. Guess I'm still playing catch-up.

2.) Everything comes with a price tag, whether it be $$ or time or energy or space or a combination of several. I struggle with laziness, and always want to be ready to see growth through a challenge. But I also recognize that my time is invested in things different from other women I know. And vice versa. Reconciling those differences is sometimes challenging when comparison time rolls around, but there is a scriptural admonition to not compare, for good reason. I may find myself jealous of the time one woman spends at home creating a beautiful space when I feel called by God to be serving the local church. Then the very next day I may be jealous over someone else's adventure outside of their home when I feel a burden to stay at home and organize that day. (Oh, we are a fickle lot...)

So, while some corners in my home may not pass the Martha Stewart test (and I will endeavor to continue playing catch-up with my housekeeping skills) I will throw off unnecessary guilt and sense of failure to embrace the things that He has called me to do. Whew.

Lesson learned, one more time.

True Green

"He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water,
that brings forth its fruit in its season,
whose leaf also shall not wither,
and whatever he does shall prosper."
Psalm 1.3

Oh, such wonderful words of promise.

The promise is not for worldly success, financial wealth, a perfect American life, or anything that we necessarily would consider happiness in our finite understanding.

The promise is for fruitfulness and prosperity in God because this man's life is planted in God. This man's leaf shall not wither. Even in times of outward drought and deprivation his roots are tapping living waters.

Oh, Lord, thank you for the reminder to dwell night and day in your word (vs. 1), to build my life upon Your word, to allow your Word to shape my every thought, to walk only in your counsel. Life abundant, verdant and fruitful, is found by the man who abides by such rivers of wisdom and truth. May such abundant portion be mine. Amen.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Scripture of the Day -- er, make that -- the Season

Jeremiah 17.9,10
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

So many things to consider here. So much for me to hold onto in this season of testing.

Recently a woman implied to me that she was failing as an older disciple because she still struggled with yielding her will to His purposes. Hmm. If the criterion for being mature in Him is to have finished struggling once and for all, I guess I lose big time.

But I'm not convinced that is a stated requisite. The Word says, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." That sounds pretty ongoing to me. Pretty much a regular occurrence -- from here on in. It sure is in my life, and painfully so at times.

This verse tells me that God Himself will test my mind. My Bible includes further illumination on that word -- "most secret parts; Lit. kidney". He is revealing to me, through testings, my inner most feelings, allowing opportunities (a'plenty these days it seems) to yield it all to Him. Whew... I'll be glad when this particular time of testing is done. Oh, for grace to pass it all! I am thankful for His Holy Spirit which brings abundant help in all that we must endure!

I also am recognizing God's take on our hearts versus the world's. He says my heart (and yours, by the way) is deceitful above all things. Guess that means we don't want to pay it much mind; we shouldn't be catering to its whims and desires. But what about that sage wisdom from Hollywood and fable that tells us to "follow your heart" and all that stuff, right? Wrong. Following your heart gets you into big trouble. Setting your eyes on Him, delighting in Him, allows Him to change your heart and put His desires there, but trusting your heart and not His Word is trouble every time.

It's amazing how often the heart and the Word lead in different directions. That's what is known as a crossroads, as "altar time" in my life. Lay that crazy heart's desire on the table, sacrifice it to Him, let it be put to death. Only then will real life come forth. Lay it down, again and again, if need be. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain."

This is truly faith stuff. We must believe that His way is better. Not only that, but we must believe that putting something to death will actually result in more life -- no, not just more life -- abundant life.

And we do this daily. So sacrifice is always in season.

But some sacrifices, some seasons, are more painful than others. Hanging on to His Word is vital right about then. So here I am, hanging on to my Scripture for the season. Daily.

"Lord, help me to know You, understand Your purposes, and cling to that which is good. I choose You, not my own deceitful heart. Continue to enlighten my path with Your glorious Light that I might walk with You every day. Amen."