Monday, September 17, 2018

A fruitful Life

Oriental Pears
May every soul that touches mine -
Be it the slightest contact,
Get therefrom some good,
Some little grace,
One kindly thought,
One aspiration yet unfelt,
One bit of courage
For the darkening sky,
One gleam of faith
To brave the thickening ills of life,
One glimpse of brighter skies
Beyond the gathering mist,
To make this life worthwhile,
And heaven a surer heritage.
~M. S. Free
I found this unfamiliar author's poem in a vintage leaflet entitled "Poems to Live By" selected by Joy Elmer Morgan, personal growth leaflet 401, tucked in a larger volume of poems belonging to my beloved's Great Aunt Jerrine who was also my mother's favourite math and science teacher.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sweet Music of Summer

Summertime in the Perennial Garden

The time of the singing birds has come!  How I love to awaken with the birds, about quarter after four at the first glimmer of the sun rising in the east, to hear first one sweet song and than another and another until there is a heavenly chorus. 

But now, as summer wanes, the birds are flocking to head to warmer climes, still singing along with the crickets, katydids and warblers.  The air seems fairly alive with the buzz of hastening bees and chattering chipmunks gathering the nuts, as the whisper of leaves fall gently on the dewy grass 

"There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentler on the spirit lies,
Than tir'd eyelids upon tir'd eyes;
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep,
And thru' the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep."
~Lord Alfred Tennyson (from The Lotus Eaters)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Humble Awe



Open, Lord, my inward ear, and bid my heart rejoice;
Bid my quiet spirit hear your comforting voice.
From the world of sin and noise and hurry I withdraw;
For the small and inward voice I wait with humble awe.

~Charles Wesley

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Our Most Cherished


"Parenting is a very complex task. If we’re not careful, we will become too focused on one aspect and let the others fall by the wayside. Many times, I see parents who are intently focused on discipline, and I’m talking about the traditional use of the word here with regard to modifying behavior. Sometimes we get very caught up in “What do I do when...” or “How do I get my kid to...” and we lose sight of the bigger picture.
The truth is that there are many things that are more important in shaping our children than the methods and techniques we use to modify their behavior.
Here are 10 things that are more important than any method you choose, in no particular order.

1. Relationship

The relationship that we have with our children is the single biggest influence on them. Our relationship sets an example for how relationships should be throughout the rest of their lives. If we have a healthy relationship based on respect, empathy, and compassion, we have set a standard. They will grow to expect that this is what a relationship looks like and will likely not settle for less. If, however, our relationship is based on control, coercion, and manipulation, well you see where I’m going with this.
In addition to that, our influence comes from a good relationship. Children are more likely to listen to and cooperate with an adult who they are connected to. In other words, if we build trust and open communication when they are small, they will come to us when they are not so small. Our attachment helps wire healthy brains, and our responses set the tone for how they respond to us (they’re little mirrors).

2. Your lens

When you look at your child, who do you see? Do you see the positives or the negatives? The way you think about them influences the way you treat them. Your thoughts also influence the way you feel emotionally and physically throughout the day. “He is in the terrible twos” will cause you to look for terrible things, to focus on them, and therefore try to correct them...constantly.
Try to turn negative thoughts like this into positive thoughts, like, “He is inquisitive and fun!” Try to start seeing misbehavior as a clue that calls for help rather than something that needs squashed immediately. Correction is not needed nearly as often as you might think.
Also watch your tone and language. Lori Petro of TEACH Through Love says, “Be mindful of the language you use to describe your children. They will come to see themselves through that filter you design.” Be careful not to place labels such as “naughty” or “clumsy” on your child. They will come to see themselves the way you see them.

3. Your relationship with your significant other

Your kids are watching and learning. The way you and your partner treat each other again sets a standard. Happy parents make happy kids. Read How Your Marriage Affects Your Kids
“The foundation of a happy family is a strong, loving relationship between the two of you. The single, most important thing that you can do for your children is to do everything in your power to have the best possible relationship with your spouse. If they see the two of you getting along and supporting each other, they will mirror you and will likely get along with each other and their friends. Every single ounce of energy that you put into your relationship will come back to you tenfold through your children.”

4. The atmosphere of your home

All of the things mentioned above come together to create the atmosphere in your home. If you have loving and connected relationships, you likely have a warm atmosphere in your home. If there is discord between you and your spouse, or you and your child, or your child and your other child, then the overall atmosphere will suffer. Have you ever gone to someone’s home and could just feel a negative atmosphere?
You want your home to be a haven, a safe, warm, inviting, and loving place for all family members. Dorothy Parker said, “The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant—and let the air out of the tires.” You don’t have to let the air out until they’re 16 though. 😉

5. How you relate to others

How do you treat the bank teller, the store clerk, the telemarketer? What about your parents and your in-laws? They are watching your example. Albert Einstein once said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”

6. Community

Are you involved in your community? Aside from setting an example, there are valuable lessons to be learned from volunteering, supporting a local cause, attending church, or donating items. Seeing a bigger picture, how their acts can influence many lives, will give them a sense of responsibility and reinforce good values.

7. School

Whether you choose private school, public school, homeschooling, or unschooling, your choice will have an impact on your child. Choose with care. Peers have a big influence on children, but if our relationship is where it should be, our influence will still be stronger.

8. Your cup

How full is it? You have to take care of you so you can take care of them. If your cup is full, you are more patient, more empathetic, and have more energy. Not only that, but a child who sees his parents respect themselves learns to have self-respect. Put yourself back on your list.

9. Media. Television. Video games. Social media.

They are always sending messages to your kids. Now, I let my kids watch TV and play computer games, so I’m not taking a big anti-media stance here, but just be aware of what your kids are getting from what they’re watching. My son said something out of character for him a while back that came directly from a cartoon character. I knew where he’d gotten it and we had a talk about the differences between cartoon land and the real world. I’m just glad they don’t have a Facebook account yet!

10. Basic needs

Adequate nutrition, sleep, and exercise are not only essential for the well-being of your child but also influence behavior. Dr. Sears addresses nutrition here. Also read this article, Sleep Better for Better Behavior. Finally, exercise helps children learn to focus their attention, limit anger outburst and improve motor skills.
“If I had my child to raise all over again, . . .   I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less. I would do less correcting and more connecting. I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes. I’d take more hikes and fly more kites. I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play. I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars. I’d do more hugging and less tugging.”
Diane Loomans
A version of this article was originally published on Positive Parent"

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Go back to the garden, sweetheart!



"The most saintly spirits are often existing in those who have never distinguished themselves as authors, or left any memorial of themselves to be the theme of the world's talk; but who have led an interior angelic life, having borne their sweet blossoms unseen like the young lily in a sequestered vale on the bank of a limpid stream."
--Kenelm Digby


Go back to thy garden-plot, sweetheart!
Go back till the evening falls,
And bind thy lilies and train thy vines,
Till for thee the Master calls.
 "Go make thy garden fair as thou canst,
Thou workest never alone;
Perhaps he whose plot is next to thine
Will see it and mend his own.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Autumn


The lands are lit
With all the autumn blaze of golden-rod,
And everywhere the purple asters nod
And bend and wave and flit.
~H. Hunt Jackson

~Photograph: Oh! Such a day as one dreams of with just the softest whispery breeze and a warm caress of sunshine. The air is alive with the sounds of autumn - chipmunks a-chattering and scampering through the rustling leaves, crickets singing fall's sweet anthem, , Solidago, sedums and  purple asters fairly alive with buzzing bees.

Hidden Blessings

Echinacea  - Just love these cone flowers in my herb garden but apparently the critters do too!  Interesting what healthy choices they make!

"The things on earth will be shaken, so that only eternal things will be left." Hebrews 12:27
"Man is always seeking happiness in some shape or other, in the things of this world. He does not see or feel that outside of God, happiness is impossible; and that to seek it in 'the creature' is to add sin to sin. But look at this vain attempt in a variety of instances. Look at people young in life. What romantic prospects dance before their eyes! "What dreams of love and home by flowery streams!"

 But what a rude shock do these 'dreams of earthly happiness' usually experience! This is true of most, if not all, who build their hopes of happiness on 'the creature'. But particularly so in the case of the family of God. How jealous is He of all such schemes of earthly bliss--and how, sooner or later, He shatters them all by His mighty hand!

Look, for instance, at health, that indispensable element of all earthly happiness! What a rude shock many of the dear family of God have experienced in their earthly tabernacle, even in their youthful days, by accident or disease, so as to mar all earthly happiness almost before the race of life was begun! Look again at wedded happiness--that "perpetual fountain of domestic sweets"--how bitter a drop often falls from the hands of God into that honeyed cup! Why does that mourning widow sigh? Why does her heart swell, and her eye run over? What does that scalding drop on her cheek mean? How many a blooming daughter has faded away in consumption before a mother's eye! How many a fine strong son has been cut down by an accident--or sudden illness has borne him away to the cold grave, in the very pride and prospect of life! But apart from these elements of shattered and broken creature happiness, what disappointment, what vexation, what sorrow and care we find in everything we put our hands to! Even with health and home unbroken, wife and child untouched by death's cold hand, there is sin and misery enough in a man's own bosom to fill his heart with continual sorrow! Thus wisely and mercifully, all our attempts to grasp earthly happiness fail and come to nothing.

 Child of grace, do not murmur at the hand of the Lord which has broken your 'dreams of creature happiness'. God does not intend that you should have your heaven here on earth, nor live after the fashion of this world. It is a kind hand, though a rough one, which blasts all your schemes of creature happiness, which breaks your body into pieces with sickness, blights all your prospects of wealth, and fame, and reputation, and ambition, and pours bitter gall into each honeyed cup. Why does the Lord brake all your earthly schemes of human happiness? Why does He blight all . . . your prospects, your plans of ambition and of success in life, your romantic dreams of pleasure and earthly joy?

That they may all be removed out of your hearts' affections; and give you happiness which shall endure forever and ever! "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." Hebrews 12:2

 (J. C. Philpot, "A Kingdom Which Cannot Be Moved" 1862)

Monday, September 10, 2018

These Things


These things I'm thankful for;

God's gifts on earth that we share.

The majesty of His handiwork;

Esteemed beyond compare.


Frail words cannot express,

Nor lowly anthems exclaim

Thy great omnipotence, freely giv'n.

We are humbled before Your name.


I pray for the will to live by Thy Word.

With grateful and penitent heart.

And with my mouth I shall sing Thy praises:

"My God How Great Thou Art!"


These things I'm thankful for;

The gift of Jesus on earth.

Our souls redeemed through His living Word,

And the miracle of His birth.


I lay my burdens down

And rest my wearisome load.

God takes my hand as He beckons me

Within His safe abode.


And in His arms I pour,

My strength, my life and my all.

With calm assurance, He bears me up.

God's love will not let me fall.


Upon the Solid Rock I stand,

Relieved and refreshed within.

My life, I willingly dedicate,

As He takes away my sin.


And so with grateful heart,

I count my blessings o'er.

God's strength and grace, His unfailing love;

These things I am thankful for.

~Deb Spaulding 8/09

(Used with permission)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Too late

(Photo:  Great Grandmother's wicker settee on the back porch - a favourite place to rest, consider, read, write and,  especially,  visit with dear ones)
"Do not, then, keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead! Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them. The things you mean to say when they are gone—say before they go!

The flowers you mean to send for their coffins—send to brighten and sweeten their homes before they leave them.If a sermon helps you, it will do the preacher good to tell him of it. If the editor writes an article that you like, he can write a still better one next week if you send him a note of thanks. If a book you read is helpful, do you not owe it to the author to write him a word of acknowledgment? If you know a weary or neglected one or one overworked, would it not be such work as God's angels love to do—to seek to put a little brightness and cheer into his life, to manifest true sympathy with him, and to put into his trembling hand—the cup filled with the wine of human love? I have always said—and I am sure I am speaking for thousands of weary, plodding toilers—that if my friends have vases laid away, filled with the perfumes of sympathy and affection, which they intend to break over my dead body—I would be glad if they would bring them out in some of my weary hours and open them, that I may be refreshed and cheered by them while I need them. I would rather have a coffin without a flower, and a funeral without a spoken eulogy—than a life without the sweetness of human tenderness and cheer! If we would fulfill our mission, we must anoint our friends beforehand for their burial. Post-mortem kindnesses does not cheer the burdened spirit. Tears falling on the icy brow—make poor and tardy atonement for coldness and neglect and cruel selfishness in long, struggling years. Appreciation when the heart is stilled in death—has no inspiration for the spirit. Justice comes too late—when it is only pronounced in the funeral eulogy. Flowers piled on the coffin—cast no fragrance backward over the weary days."
  ~ J. R. Miller, 1880

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Love is a Verb



Seems everywhere we look, we see people who are either enduring an unhappy relationship or resorting to divorce, thinking that is the only answer.  Does it have to be that way?  Is there something one can do about a failing marriage?  I am reminded of a quote by Stephen Covey, where he eloquently describes what he answered someone who asked him about his failing marriage:
“My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other that we used to have. I guess I don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can I do?”
“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” I inquired.
“That’s right” he reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”
“Love her.” I replied.
“I told you, the feeling of love just isn’t there anymore.”
“Love her.”
“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”
“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there that’s a good reason to love her.”
“But how do you love when you don’t love?”
“My friend, love is a verb. Love -- the feeling -- is a fruit of love -- the verb. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”
“But if you get to the point where you don’t love anymore, isn’t it just too late?”
If love is a verb, it's never too late.
That's the point Stephen Covey is trying to make.  If love is a verb, there’s no 'too late.' It’s a constant choice. If you don’t feel the love anymore, that is exactly the indication that we need to choose to act the love and see what happens.

Scripture tells us that we are expected to love our fellow, to love God -- if love was just a feeling, how could this be a commandment? Obviously, there is an act that we can choose to do and this act should bring about the feeling of love.

A first inclination is often  to point out all the giving, sacrificing and time investment that we naturally put into our marriages just by virtue of the housework. If loving is synonymous with giving, then how about all those loads of laundry, dinners,  hosting, serving, dishwashing, taking care of our children, shopping I’ve been doing for years? Surely, I do things like this every day, many times. Shouldn’t that all count for something?
It should and it does.

According to Rabbi Dessler in his book “Strive for Truth,” this explains why it seems parents love their children more than children love their parents:
“We usually think it is love which causes giving because we observe that a person showers gifts and favors on the one he loves. But there is another side to the argument. Giving may bring about love for the same reason that a person loves what he himself has created or nurtured; he recognizes in it a part of himself.”
So the more we give, the more we will automatically feel more attached and invested in the relationship and therefore more loving of the object of our affections.  Most of the giving we do in order to upkeep our home isn't done specifically and solely for a spuse and usually not with the conscious thought that I am choosing to express my love for my husband in this act.

So if love really is a choice, do I really choose to love every day? The answer is often not an automatic yes.  We often tend to have a subconscious wish list of how we’d like our marriages to be: more time spent talking, more sharing of feelings, more compliments, no criticism, more affection, less judging. But to whom is this wish list addressed? Usually, our spouse! How many of us go around thinking: if only I could be more loving, more affectionate, more complimentary and warm toward my spouse?

So we are essentially hoping to receive rather than to give!

Perhaps this is why love starts fading when we each start wondering how we can get more out of our marriage, thinking about our expectations, how our spouse can give us more and what we are lacking. Instead of investing and giving, we are starting the taking cycle. The choice to dwell on our expectations of our spouse, then, might be the choice to actively allow the love to stagnate and fade away.
“I always tell couples on their wedding day: be careful, dear ones, to always seek to give pleasure to each other the same way you do right now, and know, that the moment you start having demands of each other, your happiness is on it’s way out.” (Rabbi Dessler, Strive for Truth, Hebrew version, Vol. 1, pg. 39)
Why do we not choose to love the one who is most important in our earthly life?
Taking our spouse for granted:
This is a rather common human failing: we take those constant relationships in our lives for granted and stop investing so much hard work in to them because we figure they’ll always be there. Instead, we can spend our time and energy on others who may not be so generous and accepting. If I forget to call my friend, she may think I don’t care, may not call me for a few days, and things may escalate and cause real damage to the friendship. But my marriage? After so many years, will this kind of slight be a big deal? Of course not.
Invest the time and effort to make one conscious loving choice a day.
But then again, it doesn’t create loving feelings and closeness either.
Remember the excitement and love we felt the first few years of our marriage? Well, it might just have something to do with the fact that when a relationship is new, both partners are trying hard to give to each other and build intimacy. They are not yet taking anything for granted.

Want to recapture that starry-eyed intensity? Invest the time and effort to make one conscious loving choice a day. Don’t take your marriage for granted.

Fear of vulnerability:
Another reason is the hesitation to take the first step. We keep thinking the other one should be the first one to show affection, appreciation and acceptance. We have fears of being vulnerable. What if my feelings are not reciprocated? What if I just end up giving and giving and he remains the same ungrateful and taking spouse? If I stop criticizing, she’ll think it's alright to behave this way, and continue forever!
We have to realize that all these thoughts and fears are just distractions and rationalizations for not making difficult choices and moving forward:
A great marriage requires making constant choices.
Our excuses and fears are not realities unless we attribute power to them. If we remind ourselves that our thoughts are just words in our head sent there by our desire to avoid pain at all costs and our urge for comfort and convenience, we will then be free to see reality as it is: no pain no gain. In order to have a wonderful, vibrant, loving marriage, someone has to take the first step, and whoever does will inevitably benefit as a result, as an individual who has made a choice to grow.

As we approach the start of a new year, we have to take stock of our lives and set goals for the future. Achievement in any field requires choice and effort.

We all want to have the perfect marriage of harmony and love, growth and friendship. To have a great marriage, constant choices must be made -- the choice to love, to exert ourselves in the cause of spiritual growth. Nothing happens on its own. In fact, left on their own, things tend to fall apart and disintegrate, including love, admiration and respect. Without awareness and conscious effort, a once great marriage may just become an okay one.

But when loving choices are made consistently, almost any relationship can be transformed in to a great marriage.

 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  John 13:34

Friday, September 7, 2018

Where Weeds Once Ran Rampant



When we found our present home, it was dilapidated at best with grounds overgrown with Staghorn Sumacs, wild Honeysuckle, grapevines, briars, brambles, Poison Ivy and "who knows what" compounded by the "stuff" the previous owner had collected since c1927 which was strewn throughout the grounds and which had disintegrated into junk!. No way were what were lawns even passable.

Even now despite years of meticulous maintenance, a few days away will result in foot high Sumacs, ferns, Pokeweed and more! Keeping weeds out of the gardens is a daunting task requiring immense discipline and vigilance.

The seeds of such weeds often live or lie dormant for even years; wind, birds, animals and even vehicular traffic carry seed.

I am ever reminded of the parallels of the insidious nature of sin and the constant need for vigilance in my own life.

"The only effective way of keeping a plot of ground from being overgrown with weeds is to sow good seed therein: 'Overcome evil with good.' (Romans 12:21)
So the more Christ's Word dwells in us 'richly' (Colossians 3:16), the less room there will be for the exercise of sin in our hearts and lives."

~Arthur W. Pink

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sweet Contentment

 Considering the lilies . . .

 I cannot sing Thee hymns of praise
For teeming fields and granaries;
The thankful song that thrills my heart
Is not for one day set apart,
But fills my little cot with cheer
Where sweet content dwells all the year.

I do not crave a wider field
Beyond my walls' protecting shield,
Nor let ambition spur my soul
To distant search of doubtful goal;
No journey mine, o'er land and sea --
For here is all the world to me!

Here in my tiny garden plot
The restless world is well forgot;
My creed is simple, my love is great,
I thank Thee for so dear a fate.
A good man's love, a small child's need -
Ah, this is opulence indeed!

--Edith Vaughan Michaux

This is another poem found in great grandmother's scrapbook.

Monday, September 3, 2018

A nice place to be alone!


When I am all alone
Envy me most,
Then my thoughts flutter round me
In a glimmering host;
Some dressed in silver,
Some dressed in white,
Each like a taper
Blossoming light;
Most of them merry,
Some of them grave,
Each of them lithe
As willows that wave;
Some bearing violets,
Some bearing bay,
One with a burning rose
Hidden away --
When I am all alone
Envy me then,
For I have better friends
Than women and men. 

~Sara Teasdale


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Cheerfulness

Echinacea~
More often known as Cone Flower~

This plant is a favourite in the garden, not only of the gardener but of butterflies, bees and even the rabbits and woodchucks that are bent on gobbling my crop as well. Its' medicinal uses far outweigh its beauty. (I like to add the dark green leaves to tea or a salad.) While it is said to ward off colds and flu as well as hasten recovery by strengthening the immune system, some believe the leaves will help one resist the uncomfortable affects of Poison Ivy. 

It isn't a remedy for everything but well-worth inclusion in the perennial garden as well as the herb garden just for its stunning yet simple beauty which is enough to give a lift to the downcast spirit!

Newcomb writes of a better remedy for everything than Echinacea:
"It is a mistake often made--to associate piety with a downcast look, a sad countenance, and an aching heart. But there is nothing in true piety inconsistent with habitual cheerfulness.

There is a difference between cheerfulness and levity. Cheerfulness is serene and peaceful. Levity is light and trifling. Cheerfulness promotes evenness of temper and equanimity of enjoyment. Levity drowns sorrow and pain for a short time, only to have it return again with redoubled power.

I do not deny that there are certain kinds of sinful pleasures which piety spoils; but then it first removes the taste and desire for them--so their loss is nothing to be lamented.

The Christian hope, and the promises and consolations of God's Word, furnish the only true ground of cheerfulness. Who should be cheerful and happy, if not one who is delivered from the terrors of hell and the fear of death--who is raised to the dignity of a child of God--who has the hope of eternal life--the prospect of dwelling forever in the presence of God, and in the enjoyment of perfect felicity?

But no one would associate these things with that frivolity, levity and mirth, which are the delight of the pleasure-loving world. The gospel of Jesus Christ has a remedy for everything in life that is calculated to make us gloomy and sad. It offers the pardon of sin to the penitent and believing; the aid of grace to those who struggle against an evil disposition; and help against temptation. It promises to relieve the believer from fear, and affords consolation in affliction.

There is no reason why a true Christian should not be cheerful. There are, indeed, many things, which he sees, within and without, that must give him pain. But there is that in his Christian hope, and in the considerations brought to his mind from the Word of God, which is able to bear him high above them all.

~Harvey Newcomb, "The Young Man's Guide to the Harmonious Development of Christian Character, 1847

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Garden Walk


My roses bloom in my garden walks
all sweet and wet with the dew,
My lights shine down on the long hill road
the waning twilights through,
The swallows flutter about my eaves
as in the years of old,
And close about me their steadfast arms
the lisping pine trees fold. .

~Lucy Maude Montgomery from. 'The Old Home Calls"

Friday, August 31, 2018

"To see the beautiful in life, you must carry it with you"


Let the world be better, brighter,
For your having trod its way;
Let your light be seen afar
E'er sinks down life's little day.
~Sr. Dora

~Found this quote in my grandma's scrapbook

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Idleness

This iron cat, dubbed "Rastus spends his days here doin' nothin' on the front porch

Pr 31:13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
¶ He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread:
but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.
Proverbs 12:11
A morning talk show host recently passed the remark that he was going to take his boys to a currently popular movie for, if nothing else, it would be a good way to relax and "kill some time"! The comment struck me as one that is very common, rather sad and worthy of some pondering, even introspection.
Then I happened upon (I see God at work here . . .) the following quote which surely gave me pause:
Only fools idle away their time. Idleness is a complicated vice. Yes, I say VICE! First it is a most wasteful vice. It wastes time, which is more precious than rubies; it wastes a man's mental faculties; it wastes property. Idleness is a disgraceful vice. How reproachful is it in a being made to be active, to spend life in doing nothing, and to throw away his mental powers in sloth. Idleness is a criminal vice. God has commanded us to be active, and will call us to account for the sin of killing time. Idleness is a dangerous vice. Doing nothing is next to doing evil--and is sure to lead to it. From its very inaction it ultimately becomes the active cause of all evil.
"The Devil tempts all men; but the idle man tempts the Devil."
Idleness is a wretched vice. An idle man is the most miserable of all God's creatures. Woe be to the man who is doomed to bear the pain and penalties of a slothful disposition. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle.
¶ But of the times and the seasons,
brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
1 Thessalonians 5:1
~The sin of killing time (J. A. James, "The Young Man's Friend and Guide Through Life to Immortality")"

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Summer is drifting away


"As lightly as a rose petal
upon the shimmering surface of a stream,
summer was drifting away."
~Myrtle Reed

Monday, August 27, 2018

It is not best . . .



It is not best to think too much
Of many little things,
Which come to grieve and then might leave
A lot of scars or stings;

Life is too short to spend its hours
In such a foolish way,
Such insults and such injuries
Let God avenge some day.

It is not best to judge at all,
Lest it should prove unjust;
In matters great or matters small,
Remember we are dust.

And that we very often fail
Of doing what was right,
So let's ignore our neighbor's faults
Or keep them out of sight.

It is not best to pride ourselves
On merits great or small,
How much we know, how much we do,
Such things won't help at all.

'Tis better just to jog along
In meekness day by day,
A common soul amid life's throng,
Unmindful of display.

It is not best to grieve too much
When golden chords are riven,
And some dear soul whom we have loved
Plumes its frail wings for heaven;

Our Father's love will fill the void
In every aching heart,
Until we meet our loved again
Where loved ones never part.


By Rev. Clement Shaw of Oswegatchie c1900
Found in my grandmother's scrapbook c 1930.

Late summer

~Cannas and Standard Hostas with their etheeral-scented pure white blossoms are just starting to bloom in the front garden.

IN the grey summer garden I shall find you
With day-break and the morning hills behind you.
There will be rain-wet roses; stir of wings;
And down the wood a thrush that wakes and sings.

~Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967). Picture-Show. 1920.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Mysterious Way


God moves in a mysterious way
Altho' we cannot see.
He has such wonders to perform
To help both you and me.

Strange things may happen here and there
We wonder why 'tis so;
But God has reasons for each thing
That happens here below.

Sometimes in spirit we rebel
When he sends griefs to bear
We wonder in our inmost hearts
If he can really care.

If we would wait with patience thru
'Til all is said and done,
We'd understand the reason why
Of all beneath the sun.

There's not a trouble fraught with pain
That comes to you or me
But God has meant for someone's good
To us a mystery.

The old time hymn so true and sweet
I read with eager eyes.
God moves in a mysterious way
But O! How wondrous wise!

Sometimes things seem to go all wrong
Increasing fear and woe
In tantalizing cruel ways
That tempt us mortals so.

We feel God has forsaken us
When clouds o'er hang our day
He knows the best, altho' He moves
In a mysterious way.

~From Echoes of life by Belle Tooley Stacy

Found in my Grandma's scrapbook c1930. The scrapbook was created from a Sears wallpaper catalogue which she filled with clippings of poems, quotes and stories. She died leaving Grandpa a widower a second time with several young children including my father who was about six.  My aunt thoughtfully shared with me with this treasured glimpse of Grandma's heart.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Waiting!


Waiting . . .

. . . may well be the most onerous of tasks for this heart. For years, it seemed that I was forever waiting for something:  for the school bus, for summer, for vacation, for school to start, for a certain boy to call, for a letter to arrive, for college, for graduation, for our wedding day, for my husband to come home on leave, for our first babe, for our first home, to finish the restoration of our home, for a rose to bloom . . . and the list goes on and on and on in much more detail . . .
Little did I understand the value of the lessons so well illustrated in this poem:
WAIT
(Author Unknown)
Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried:
Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, "Child, you must wait".
"Wait? You say, wait! " my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By Faith, I have asked, and am claiming your Word.
My future and all to which I can relate
hangs in the balance, and YOU tell me to WAIT?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
or even a 'no' to which I can resign.
And Lord, You promised that if we believe
we need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply!
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, "You must wait."
So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting.... for what?"
He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine,
And he tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to run.
All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want--
But, you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint;
You'd not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there;
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence were all you could see.
You'd never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove;
You'd know that I give and I save.... (for a start),
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
The glow of My comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight,
The depth that's beyond getting just what you asked
Of an infinite God, who makes what you have LAST.
You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that "My grace is sufficient for Thee."
Yes, your dreams for your loved one overnight would come true,
But, Oh, the Loss! If I lost what I'm doing in you!
So, be silent, My Child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft' may My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still, "WAIT."

Friday, August 24, 2018

Weedin' and Thinkin'



If the truth be known, perhaps I don't much like the laborious, incessant task of weeding, per se.  Whoever said a woman's work is never done must have had a garden! However, I have discovered that my morning and evening devotional times are far from sufficient time with the One I love. What better place than where He Himself was wont to resort - a garden! While I don't suppose He weeded, I do know He spent time alone, apart, often in a garden, in meditation and prayer.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.
Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!
Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting 'neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth's dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father's glory,
Sunshine of my Father's face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.
~Jean S. Pig­ott (1876)
 
My meditation of Him shall be sweet!"Psalm 104:34
 
"The Lord Jesus is the subject of my meditations. Not a day passes but my thoughts are occupied with Him. Forget whom I may--I never forget Him. Nothing feeds, nothing refreshes, nothing delights my soul--like vigorous meditations on Jesus. I dwell at times on . . .
the glories of His person,
the riches of His grace,
the merit of His blood,
the transcendent glory of His righteousness,
the tenderness of His sympathy,
the constancy of His love,
the vastness of His resources,
the greatness of His power,
the glory of His offices,
the prevalence of His intercession,
and the grandeur of His second coming--until I am enamored with His beauty, and enraptured with His love! My meditation of Jesus is sweet! I think of Him upon my bed, and meditate on Him through the watches of the night.Jesus is the solace and joy of my soul. When all is dark within me,
when all is dreary around me, when all is discouraging before me-- He fills me full of joy with His countenance. One look from His eye, one word from His lips, one breath breathed on my soul--
relieves, restores, and makes me happy. He is the river of pleasure--in which I sometimes bathe!
He is the Eden of delights--in which I sometimes walk! Take away Jesus--and my soul droops, desponds, and dies! Give me Jesus--and the enjoyment of His presence, and I can do without any other heaven! He is the joy of my brightest days, and my solace in my dreariest nights!"

 ~James Smith, "Precious Things from the Everlasting Hills"

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Let there be peace





Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we,
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me,
Let this be the moment now;
With every step I take,
Let this be my solemn vow
To take each moment and live each moment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
written by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller in 1955.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Geraniums and Books


In my garden I spend my days; in my library I spend my nights. My interests are divided between my geraniums and my books. With the flower I am in the present; with the book I am in the past. 


~Alexander Smith, "Books and Gardens," Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country, 1863
One of the geraniums that spend the winter in our south parlour

Thursday, August 16, 2018

If


If A Child Lives With . . .
by Dorothy Law Nolte

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilt.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative.
 If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition, he learns that it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to trust in himself and others .
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the world is a nice place in which to live.

Pr 22:6  ¶Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

hmmmm ...


"I care little for the government which presides at Washington, 
in comparison with the government which rules the millions of American homes. 
No administration can seriously harm us 
if our home life is pure, frugal, and godly. 
No statesmanship or legislation can save us, 
if once our homes become the abode of profligacy."

~T. L. Cuyler

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Things Are Not Always As They Seem



A few years ago, working on my degree in Theology and Christian Education, I had the opportunity to write a series of articles. There is one in particular on suffering that I keep folded in the back of my Bible which I turn to time and time again, for the truths contained therein are such that I want to be ever reminded. Things are not always as they seem. We learn many of life's most precious lessons in the dark, difficult times of suffering.

Rejoicing in Suffering

"Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing as unto a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19).

The ultimate or immediate cause of a Christian''s suffering is that it is according to the will of God. Christians should not be surprised that they endure trials. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ''s suffering; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:12-13). It is usual for God''s people as they live on this earth to be under attack and at times even slain (1 Tim. 3:12).

Persecution forces Christians to commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. The most important message a Christian could ever learn, and the most vital command a Christian could ever obey is trust in the Lord with all thine heart (cf Psalm 64). Rather than allow suffering to confuse and depress him, one must ask how God and his will fit into the picture. He doesn''t require the satisfaction of a detailed explanation from God in order to live with his troubles; but rather, a Christian must bring to mind that God is involved with and in control of all that goes on in the universe that He created and is capable to tending to the needs of his children. A Christian must trust God and not panic, retaliate, self-centeredly feel sorry for himself so that he hurts others (even the people he ought to love) nor neglect his obligation to care for the spiritual needs of others.

The suffering which God sends to a believer and the believer''s Christian response to that suffering is a witness that can impress people as nothing else can. It is testimony to the amazing grace of God which transforms sinners into brave and loving people, despite the evil treatment they receive. Their courage and grace will then be a reflection of the beauty of their Creator and Savior. The suffering of believers is part of God''s will for them on earth. Peter knew that God could rescue his children from physical danger; but in God''s eyes, that is not always the best way. Sometimes a believer learns through suffering a lesson that he will learn no other way. He is schooled by a loving and wise Father through suffering to be more dependent on Him, more patient with other imperfect people, more willing to readjust his priorities and subordinate his own desires, or more sensitive to the needs of others.

Sometimes, however, the lessons are not primarily for the sufferer, but for others. The believer''s suffering and his reaction to it can display to others God''s handiwork of faith in his life (2 Peter 1:6,7; 2:9,10). This suffering can be powerful witness as, to the continual amazement of unbelievers, a believer reacts in a gentle Christ-like way. Whatever God has in mind as He allows suffering into the world, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it is always a good thing and remember our weakness and God''s care for us. When Christians can no long function because of their pain and sorrow, when the mighty hand of God descends upon them so that their own strength is broken, when they have run out of ideas and solutions to their problems, when they are truly humbled, then they can rejoice because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, caring for all of his own. Christians must wait patiently, for God works in due time to avenge his honor and his people, never waiting too long to remove their suffering and never abandoning his people as they continue to endure.

The King who has all power and authority works out all things for his people. Believers do not fear or doubt as they endure suffering as they know that God is the Master of all things (1 Peter 3:22). As Jesus'' suffering was a carefully planned, purposeful and effective event (Acts 2:22-23, 1 Peter 1:18-19), so are the sufferings of believers in God''s hands. Believers know that they can cast all their care on him who is wise and able to help them, and who can use their suffering to accomplish his good purposes. Rather than a sign of weakness, suffering is a witness that God can keep his word. Believers suffer on God''s schedule, as it were (John 21:19, Acts 9:16, 2 Peter 1:14). They trust that God will not only bring an end to their suffering on time, but that he will also give them the completion of their salvation, as well as the promised inheritance.

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness'' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Mt. 5:10-12). Being persecuted for righteousness'' sake causes a person to reach the highest level of the satisfaction of blessedness. This blessedness begins the very moment that a person believes in Jesus Christ for salvation. (This is demonstrated by the fact that the promises concerning the kingdom of heaven in verses three and ten are in the present tense.) While in this life one may enjoy the results of implementing these truths, the ultimate condition of blessedness will be experienced in heaven, that reward being our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the will of God that we should suffer, for it is through suffering that we are refined and tried as gold through the fires of affliction to remove the dross. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

My Cup Runneth Over
The months melt into years
Of tears, creating a fragrant pool
Laced with lily blossoms.
"Wait patiently," He'd said
"And be still."
I rest here now 
Of futile endeavors
Seeking that elusive dream;
But now the veil is lifted
Revealing a garden
Where thorns and brambles grew;
A fountain and
A table laden with bread and wine
Prepared by the One
Whose face I sought
And see now . . .
Instead of my own.

~CALM (1998)


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Patience

Woman Reading in Black Gown by Alexander Mann

My mother once told me of the time when she was a young student nurse in a Catholic Hospital, they literally had to run from class to class to make it in time.  She was waiting at the elevator one day, quite impatient as she was wont to be, when one of the Order of the Grey Nuns came along and, after quietly observing her for a moment drumming her fingers on the wall, she softly said, "Patience, my dear Miss Johnston, patience.  Patience is a Virtue."  She never forgot that lesson.  Nor have I.  It was my dear mother who sent me this poem/prayer:

God, teach me to be patient
Teach me to go slow
Teach me how to wait on you
When my way I do not know.
Teach me sweet forebearance
When things do not go right
So I remain unruffled
When others grow uptight.
Teach me how to quiet
My racing, rising heart
So I may hear the answer
You are trying to impart.
Teach me to let go dear God
And pray undisturbed until
My heart is filled with inner peace
And I learn to know you well!

~Helen Steiner Rice

Friday, August 10, 2018

Life isn't greener on the other side of the fence

Fence around the Perennial Garden with handmade Queen Anne pickets
 


We all have those times when we wish things could be different or better.  We each have our burdens and challenges from time to time.  Sometimes money is very tight or there is an illness in the family.  I certainly know all about that!  We can feel sorry for ourselves or others or we can pause to ponder what it is that we ought to be learning from these difficulties.  They are meant for our learning, you know.  Or maybe you did not.  Learning to look for the blessings hidden within our dark times is a challenge and one that is incredibly worthwhile, for in doing so and in giving thanks for these times, we will surely be blessed and will eventually look back and see that it was in these most difficult of times that we learned and were strengthened the most.  It is in these times we learn to lean on God's Strength instead of our own.  Mr. Newton explains further:

(John Newton's Letters)

"My dear Madam,
We all hope, by-and-bye, to have new bodies which are not subject to illness. In the mean time, if the Lord is pleased to sanctify the infirmities to which our present mortal frame is subject--we shall have cause to praise Him, no less for the bitter than the sweet.

I am convinced in my judgment, that a cross or a pinch somewhere or other, is so necessary to us--that we cannot go on well for a considerable time without one. We live on an enchanted ground, and are surrounded with snares! If we are not quickened by trials--we are very prone to sink into spiritual formality or carelessness. It is a shame it should be so--but so it is, that a long course of prosperity always makes us spiritually drowsy!

Trials therefore are medicines--which our gracious and wise Physician prescribes, because we need them. He proportions the frequency and the weight of them--to what our case requires.

Many of His people are sharply exercised by poverty, which is a continual trial every day, and all the year round. Others have trials in their families. Those who have comfortable firesides, and a competence for this world--often suffer by sickness, either in their own persons, or in the persons of those they love.

But any, or all of these crosses, are mercies--if the Lord works by them to prevent us from cleaving to the world, from backsliding in heart or life, and to keep us nearer to Himself.

Let us trust our Physician--as He will surely do us good. And let us thank Him for all His prescriptions, for without them our soul-sickness would quickly grow upon us!

I sympathize with Miss K. in her trials--yet I know she will profit by them. I hope her illness will find relief--but it is better to have a stiff neck with the grace of God--than to be stiff-necked in the sense in which many young people are, who can move their heads freely enough. I hope it is a mercy that she bears the yoke awhile in her youth. When the affliction has answered the good end for which it was sent--the Lord can easily remove it."

 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Home



Our homes are meant to be a foretaste of heaven on earth, a place where we are at peace, surrounded by love. It is not money or things that make a house a home, but rather the heart. It is the heartfelt gestures that mean so much, that say "I love you" and "You matter to me."

When we were first married, like most young couples, we didn't have much, but I noticed that if everything was sparkling clean and neat, it was the small touches like a bouquet of wild flowers, peaceful music, the aroma of a homemade bread or an apple pie baking in the oven that made our little apartment welcoming. Whoever said that "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" was not far from the truth.

My mother-in-law says that if she has a pie and a pan of her homemade rolls to take out of the freezer, even the simplest fare seems special and she is right. Every meal is filled with love.

Last evening when I was getting my husband's breakfast ready for morning, he said, "You know, dear, you don't really have to put a plate under my cereal bowl [filled with homemade granola, which he loves and which helps keep him healthy]." I said that I wanted him to feel special. He glowed . . . Surely that is a trifling thing that most would not bother with, but little things mean a lot, and it is just an example of another simple, quiet way of letting someone know they are appreciated, that you think they are special enough to "go the extra mile." Surely, we each have our own countless ways of showing we care.

There is no place in the world where the amenities of courtesy should be so carefully maintained as in the home. There are no hearts that hunger so for expressions of affection as the hearts of which we are most sure. There is no love that so needs its daily bread as the love that is strongest and holiest. There is no place where rudeness or incivility is so unpardonable as inside our own doors and toward our best beloved. The tenderer the love and the truer, the more it craves the thousand little attentions and kindnesses which so satisfy the heart. It is not costly presents at Christmas and on birthdays and anniversaries that are wanted; these are only mockeries if the days between are empty of affectionate expressions. Jewelry and silks and richly-bound volumes will never atone for the want of warmth and tenderness. Between husband and wife there should be maintained without break or pause, the most perfect courtesy, the gentlest attention, the most unselfish amiability, the utmost affectionateness. Coleridge says,

'The Happiness of life is made up of minute fractions,
the little soon-forgotten charities
of a kiss
or a smile,
a kind look,
a heartfelt compliment,
and the countless infinitesimals
of pleasurable thought and genial feeling."

These may seem trifles, and the omission of them may be deemed unworthy of thought; but they are the daily bread of love, and the hearts go hungry when they are omitted. It may be only carelessness at first in a busy husband or a weary wife that fails in these small, sweet courtesies, and it may seem a little matter, but in the end the result may be a growing far apart of two lives which might have been for ever very happy in each other had their early love but been cherished and nourished.

For love will starve if it is not fed,
And true hearts pray for their daily bread." 
~J. R. Miller


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Road Less Traveled



This old road, once a path trod by Indians and early settlers in the sixteen hundreds, eventually became a "wagon road" and later on a part of a major thoroughfare, the construction of which was overseen by our county's first roadmaster in the mid seventeen hundreds, whose family built our home. The road, which some say is the most beautiful, unspoiled historic trace in the county, has been dead-ended to protect the old arch bridge, for a busy highway now by-passes the old way. Life in the fast lane has superceded the slower, contemplative journey through life and perhaps what really matters.

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

--Robert Frost (1874–1963)  Mountain Interval. 1920.

The Arch Bridge, one of the few surviving in this area

Research Findings on the Arch Bridge by Village Historian, Ruth Piwonka