Sunday, June 30, 2013

Real No-Brainers

I had the house to myself. Not for long. It's not usually quiet for long around here...yet.

I chose the porch. A real no-brainer, as they say. The air was perfect, the sounds were, too; the lazy buzz of a distant lawn mower, the crescendo of the motorcycle wending its way up the hillside, a cacophony of birdsong. Summertime in Madrid. At 1942. On my porch.

But it won't last. The evening is already pressing in. More mornings will come, more evenings, too. Seasons will change.

Do you know that this pleasure, this God-breathed pleasure, is fading, fleeting? He is the creator, but it has been tainted. He won't let it remain forever.

Here's the deal: if He made the beauty of this world, eternity with Him in His presence is the best choice of all. Perfection. In every way. Everlasting, too. And Jesus provides free admission for all who will ask Him.

A real no-brainer, as they say.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lessons in Worldview (From Lit Class)

I run a literature class for a small group of students. Together we read historical fiction. Along the way we study related events, research cultural trends, plot on maps the geographical locations mentioned. We often dabble in music, art, and poetry from that time and place as well. We wring every bit of truth we can from those pages!

We include one other important study. We consider world view when reading our texts. By asking a few key questions, I nudge them toward a deeper inspection, a closer look. What do we learn from this person's response to this situation? What is the worldview held by this character? What glasses, what perspective, is he looking through - fear, trust in himself, trust in his parents, pride, bitterness, surroundings, trust in God? How can you tell? If this person had understood the Biblical precept of forgiveness, how would it have changed the situation we just read? Is this character consistent in his vantage point?

Last week we read this together:
I never saw anyone give money to a beggar. You couldn't, my father explained, or you'd be mobbed by beggars. They'd follow you everyplace; they'd never leave you alone. I had learned not to look at them when I passed and yet I saw. The running sores, the twisted legs, the mangled faces. What I couldn't get over was that, like me, each one of those beggars had only one life to live. It just happened that they had drawn rotten ones. (From Homesick by Jean Fritz)
I had underlined it, which was my cue to stop right there and gather some input from these, my students. "It just so happened that they had drawn rotten ones." What does that tell us about her perspective here? Is that Biblical? Do you think we "draw" lives randomly? Is it fixed by some chance or operation of luck in the sky? Is there truly no hope for those beggars? Had they been destined to this? What part did sin play? How can Jesus - the Redeemer, the Savior, the Healer, the Prince of Peace - make a difference? Can things change for this beggar? If so, are we looking for a lifestyle change, or a heart change, or a spiritual transfer from darkness to light? Will that effect his physical life? How?

We know from Psalm 139 that God is personally involved in our creation. And Psalm 16.5,6 says this:
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure. 
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Our heroine seemed to believe that "luck" was the dictator, that she and the beggar had both "drawn" a life like we draw a hand of cards in a card game. Now, debating the reason for his circumstance and our own may be needed at times; gaining an understanding of the impact of our own choices as well as recognizing the damage accrued through the sin of others is important. But what our heroine needs to know is that God Himself, who loves forever and always, has seen and known and provided hope and salvation for all - anyone at all - who will call on His name. Anyone. The "boundary lines", for even this beggar, become redemptive through the power and grace provided by Jesus through the finished work of the Cross. All things work together for good as a follower of Jesus Christ. The man, if he puts his faith in Jesus, could be adopted, sanctified. A new inheritance could be his.

This great news is not new news. But it is great and new for every hearer the first time it becomes clear. May people everywhere understand that there is One who has come to redeem the lines, to restore the soul, to work all things together for good. He has come to make us His own. And the inheritance of eternity belongs to such. We need only look to Him and it will become clear.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I have always known I was simple. I just don't tend to like complicated, complex, brain-frying mind twisters. I've tried to  - and I'm still intrigued by deep conversation, I imagine myself with lofty ideas and words. But I'm forced back to simplicity every time.

And you know? I'm okay with that. I've become convinced you don't have to fry and twist and burn out trying to understand God,
His love,
His answers to life,
and His salvation plan.

Yes, No, Wait, or Trust Me.

Father, Redeemer, Savior, Prince of Peace, Comforter.

God is orderly (hence He created order.)
God is Holy (hence He calls us to Holiness.)
God is Love (hence He alone provides and expresses true love.)

God is Faithful (when we ourselves are unfaithful.)
God is Strength (when we ourselves are weak.)
God is Good (when we ourselves are defective.)

It is simple. He loved us. And now we can love Him.

This is also simple: loving Him involves obeying His commands. Simple. He says to do something, we do it.

Some might quibble and say that means we are trying to earn His love. Hogwash. It means that we are obeying Him. If the motives are wrong, He will deal with that.

And should He show you that your motives for obedience were wrong or are wrong, please please please don't be narrow-minded and small, insisting that everyone who seeks to obey Him has your wrong motives as well.

And please please please don't be embittered toward those who have loved obedience, and shared lessons of obedience, and talked about the blessings of obedience, and even (oh, the horrors of this) encouraged others in obedience. Perhaps, just perhaps, they were excited about LOVING this God of salvation and grace - which is shown through our obedience. It is. It absolutely is.

Love is shown through obedience. Don't be afraid of that, just because someone might possibly do it out of wrong motivation. Is not our God big enough to help sort such things out? And just because He helps you sort it out (you who have stumbled into a wrong understanding or a prideful attempt to earn His love rather than serve His love), please don't make silly assumptions, don't jump to conclusions, and please please please don't allow yourself indulgence in judgment of those who have happily, blissfully, and contentedly served His love with obedience out of pure love and joy. Such assumption and judgment leads to harshness, disunity, and bitterness. And it isn't nice, either.

So, keep it simple. Don't over analyze. Let your problems be your problems. Let others have their own. Teach, instruct, and lead (and carefully so, for you do recall what the Word says to those who would teach -
James 3.1  Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.)

Keep your own heart. Be glad for His work in others and trust His work in you and in the brethren. It's hard to be simple at times, but... it is simple, too.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cultural Revolution; A Thought

I'm reading The Good Earth. In this story set in turn of the century China, broken relationships abound - broken when viewed in light of what God has established as healthy and whole. We find husbands who are not free to show care and concern, wives who are degraded and abused, children who pay the price of living in homes wrought with pain and suffering. And no end is in sight, save the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Where the gospel of Christ has been preached, women are elevated to a place of respect, honor, and love. I am grateful beyond words to live in a Judeo-Christian culture, a culture heavily influenced and impacted by Scripture. Yes, you heard correctly. Allowing the Word of God to be the standard provides liberty, care, substantive purpose, and incredible value to womanhood.

However, we Americans are quickly becoming a post Judeo-Christian culture as we are currently on a course of perverting, excluding, and desecrating the Word of God and the standards it provides. We are moving into uncharted waters. We are stumbling headlong into darkness and chaos leaving the shelter, the safety, the protection of His Word behind.

Cultural standards are NOT the mode for attaining holiness. They never have been. God's ways are not boxed or housed within a particular set of traditions. Indeed, a person living according to Biblical precept and command will necessarily look unusual, no matter his cultural background. When God visits your life with His, you are turned upside down. You don't fit, won't fit, shouldn't fit, and can't fit - not if you live in accordance with His divine will.

But certain cultures, having been impacted and shaped by Scripture due to large numbers of adherents to faith in the Bible, have taken on forms and practices established and prescribed by God. They have called good "good" and evil "evil". This was our culture once. It is changing quickly.

I do hope we wake up before it's too late.
I do pray for revival, renewal, and a Great Awakening.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Jot, A Tittle

  • Honey and I worked on our front garden today. I adore having him work outside with me. A favorite, absolutely favorite, thing to do.
  •  Was glad there was leftover egg salad in the fridge. It's a summertime sandwich in my mind.
  • Merrick is learning how to work. That's a great thing.
  •  Perfect weather today in my estimation.
  •  I brought CFA information to ladies in Moira. Maybe there will be some new students next year!
  •  Foot binding - the very idea of it makes my heart sad. One thousand years of that practice. Overwhelming. Estimated 2 billion women or more suffered.
  •  I am grateful to live in a Judeo/Christian culture. We all should be.
  • Enjoying The Good Earth. Lots. Let me qualify: it is highly interesting. It's not "fun" and is far from lighthearted.
  • Looking forward to a car trip to Canandaigua for a wedding tomorrow because the weather is supposed to be fine once again. And as I said, it is perfect.
  • Also looking forward to seeing lots of precious folks at said wedding.
  • Carina is so helpful. I appreciate her making phone calls and checking out prices on hotels, airfare, car rentals, truck rentals. She's a peach that way.
  • Glad for my bed. What a simple, yet totally fabulous, luxury. Wonder what I'm thinking? Read some books. You'll find out we have life really, really easy. Really.
  • My eyes are shutting involuntarily. I think I will be done here!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Best Feeling

Unity restored with those you love so much
you ache inside
every time there is a sense that unity has been lost.

Hearts revealed.
Truth spoken and acknowledged.
 Concord attained. 
Harmonious agreement.

Caring assured and confirmed, substantiated.
Love given and received, communicated.

The best feeling.

I want to live there.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Babies and Destiny

Every baby has destiny wrapped up inside of them like treasure waiting to be discovered. Every single human being. Every little life - from the get go.

And that includes you and me.

Today one of my grandchildren was dedicated. Her father and mother pledged to the Lord before all of us to do their best to lead her into a knowledge of His great love. They prayed for her, acknowledging that she has destiny, talents, purpose. They asked for wisdom, patience, insight. We prayed as well. It is precious and necessary to remember that each child is not for us, but for Him. He created, He loved, He planned, He wrought salvation.

Her mother sang a song.
"These fingers that curl round my hand must do things that no other can.
I know you're not mine, but God's own design, and I want you to follow His plan."
That is true.
For her. For me.
For you.

Saturday, June 08, 2013


Recently my husband and I were in New York City with a group of young people. We started the days at various places, saw several sites, hit up a Broadway show, ate in Chinatown, and visited TR's childhood home (that's Teedie Roosevelt, or Teddy, or Theodore depending on who he was to you) - for starts. We walked, rode subways, walked, got on buses, walked, took the tram, and walked some more.

By late afternoon of only day 2 my legs were complaining, my feet were in rebellion, and I just needed to "sit a spell" and get refreshed. But did the kids? NO!!!

Today I remembered a favorite scripture:
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.   
Isaiah 40.31
They shall walk and not faint. I was fainting. Physically. But sometimes I am fainting spiritually, losing my strength, falling and not soaring.

Wait on the Lord. Those who do that shall not faint, shall not be weary.
To wait: to look for, to expect, to hope.
When I find myself fainting or growing weary, it signals a lack of focus, a failure to look for Him to provide all that is needed, a loosening of my grip on faith and hope.

Lord, stir up faith afresh. Jesus, you know that I believe - help me in my unbelief. Grant me grace to look steadfastly at You, to turn my eyes upon You, the Redeemer and Savior of all. Let me walk and not faint, run and not be weary. Let me wait on You only, my Help and my Salvation. Amen.

Friday, June 07, 2013


Tonight, June 7, 2013, my two youngest students move on - one into high school and one into a new season altogether.

You do not have to ask me how I feel about it. I will tell you. I feel somewhat sad. I am truly wishing there was just a little more time.

You do not have to ask me what I think about it. I will tell you. I think it is wonderful and I think they are wonderful. I am grateful for four more years with my buddy, Merrick. And I am thoroughly grateful for my tenure as Camilla's primary educator. I cherish that opportunity with her more than I could ever begin to express. She is my beautiful, gentle, strong young daughter, well prepared to move ahead. How I will miss her as a student.

Days - morning, afternoons, and evenings - spent together. Introducing her to reading, coaching her through math, watching her writing talent blossom, listening to hours of daily piano practice. Stumbling through German and Latin together following morning devotions around the breakfast table. Paint by numbers (remember those, Jess and Nanz?) Music history, the history of the horse, display nights, and CFA. To name just a bit.

For a long time now my days, my months, my years have all been filled in this way. I officially began teaching my children at home in 1986. Camilla is the 8th graduate from the Sinclair Academy of Fine Arts and Education. (Yup - Fine Arts comes first around here. What can I say?)

Life - my every moment - has been lived with these, my students. They've seen me in the trenches, on the mountain top, in the valley. They've been by my side when I'm riding high and when the floods have overwhelmed me. We have learned together, laughed together, loved together. We are a close family, sharing common memories, knit together through pain and sorrow as well as deep joy.

But our greatest tie is our love for Jesus and His shared salvation. As I watch my last two move on, I pray - as I have always prayed - that they will daily love Him more, cherish His Word, love those He has given to them as family, and serve Him with ever increasing knowledge and wisdom and diligence. Be blessed, my wonderful beautiful children. I love you, every one, with all my heart.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Love Branded

I can get excited about a snazzy new song and dance - easily excited.

Great furniture and wonderfully patterned fabrics of finest material can thrill my soul - quite readily.

Flower beds designed to ebb and flow in fullness of color and shape can take my breath away - immediately enamored.

But His love...

Reminders of His faithful love in my life. Stories of the depth of His love. Depictions of unconditional, boundless love.

Such things etch a sigh deep within, leaving me branded forever. This doesn't depart. This love remains, written on the flesh of my heart.

I am His always, and He is mine.