Monday, January 22, 2018

Sweeter than Honey



"Remember that it is not hasty reading—
but serious meditation on holy and heavenly truths,
which makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul.
It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee which gathers honey—
but her abiding for a time on the flower which draws out the sweet.
It is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most—
who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian."
Thomas Brooks

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever:
the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:9-10



Sunday, January 21, 2018

Blessedness





This lily is a favorite of mine with its delicate colouring and quite unusual strap like petals, each bloom lasting the typical day. Have never seen another like it. I found this day tripping with a like minded friend at a garden shop in the mountains. The nursery is sadly abandoned now but still among my favorites as I recall the flower-filled work boots by the gate and cats dozing amongst the myriad of plants for sale by the knowledgeable proprietors. As I was weeding around this plant, I suddenly realized it was blooming! So busy was I searching out the weeds, that I almost missed the thrill of the first blossom. Glad I thought to take a picture.

"To cultivate a beautiful garden you must uproot all weeds and other unlovely things. This is best done, not by sitting down and studying the origin of such weeds, and ascertaining their names and number, but by patient and diligent work in pulling them up by the roots and ridding your garden of them forever.
Likewise, to cultivate a beautiful mind, you must uproot and cast from you all mental weeds and other unlovely thoughts, such as pride, envy, impatience, fear, resentment, and selfishness. Then you must plant and carefully cultivate in your mental garden seeds of kindness, goodness, love, purity, humility, reverence, and righteousness. As you persevere in this work, your mind will gradually unfold into beauty and fragrance, and your life will be blest." --Granville Leeiser

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Galatians 5:25
Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.
I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.
Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.
Hast Thou not bid me love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach my heart to cling:
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!
Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.
George Croly - Psalms and Hymns for Pub­lic Wor­ship (Lon­don: 1854).

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Richard Baxter's Guide To The Value Of A Book

Make careful choice of the books which you read: let the holy Scriptures ever have the pre-eminence. Let Scripture be first and most in your hearts and hands and other books be used as subservient to it.

While reading ask yourself:

1. Could I spend this time no better?
2. Are there better books that would edify me more?
3. Are the lovers of such a book as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?
4. Does this book increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?

"The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails - given by one Shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body." Ecclesiastes 12:11-12



Thursday, January 18, 2018

Irish Blessing



May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow;
May the soft winds freshen your spirit;
May the sunshine brighten your heart;
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you;
And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.

Irish Blessing

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Blessing


"Bless our home, and make it fit for Thee, Oh God.
Send your Holy Spirit into each nook and cranny.
Let the walls resound with love and laughter.
Let your birds sing on your trees outside
and your lilies flourish in your gardens.
Bless our kitchen and fill it with the warmth of shared bread.
Bless our family room and fill it with loving communication.
Bless our bedrooms and fill them with restful slumber .
Bless each room and each of us, dear God,
and make yourself at home with us."
~ Dolores Curran

~photograph: Grandma on their wedding day
I never had the privilege of knowing my father's mother who passed away when he was only about six, but it is clear she had a profound influence on him and all around her..  I know this only from the letters his older sister, my dear aunt, who saved for me and from her sweet memories, for my father also passed away when I was barely six.   Her blessed  influence lingers on.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Eartthly Treasures


If you have anything that you prize very highly,
hold it very loosely, for you may easily lose it.

Read the word "mortal" plainly imprinted
on the brows of all your children.

Look into the dear eyes that are to you like wells in the
desert, and remember that they may be closed in less
than an hour, and the light of life be gone from them.

Your beloved one and you yourself are alike mortal,
and either of you may soon be taken from the other.

Have you property?
Remember that wealth has wings, and that it
flies away, like a bird upon swift pinions.

Have you health?
Then think what a marvelous mercy it is that--
"A harp of thousand strings
Should keep in tune so long"
and remember that, very soon, those strings may
be all jarring, and some of them may be broken.

Hold everything earthly with a loose hand.

Of everything below, it is wise for us to say,
"This is not my abiding portion."

There is nothing permanently for you here, after all.

You must keep all earthly treasures out of your heart,
and let Christ be your treasure, and let him have your heart.

Make this your earnest prayer--
"My Master, here I am; take me,
and do as you will with me.
Use me for your glory in any way that you please.
Deprive me of every comfort,
if so I shall the more be able to honor you.
Let my choicest treasures be surrendered
if your sovereign will shall so ordain."


From Spurgeon's, "An Instructive Truth"

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hope


Who thinks, at night, that morn will ever be?
Who knows, far out upon the central sea,
That anywhere is land? And yet, a shore
Has set behind us, and will rise before:
A past foretells a future...
~Bayard Taylor, "First Evening"

Photograph:  Dining Room Window

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bliss


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

~The Lake Isle of Innisfree, by W. B. Yeats, (1865 - 1939)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Not Mine



 Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be:
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.
Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy Rest
2 I dare not choose my lot;
I would not if I might:
Choose Thou for me, my God;
So shall I walk aright.
Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.
3 Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me,
My poverty or wealth.
Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be Thou my guide, my strength,
My wisdom, and my all.

If thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43And there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; (Luke 22)
 
Horatius Bonar (1857)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Affinity



We share these loves, my friend and I:
Bubbling brooks, a pink and blue sky,
Delicate mists, soft winds that sing,
Fragile snowflakes, violets in spring.
We share these loves, my friend and I:
Ruffled curtains, a latticed pie,
Flower-filled vases, cozy nooks,
An open fire, rows of books.
We share these loves, my friend and I:
Happy thoughts, aims that are high,
The warmth of friendship,
Pleasure in giving,
Faith in God, and real joy in living.
~Adeline Roseberg

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Closed Door



Is there some problem in your life to solve,
Some passage seeming full of mystery?

God knows, who brings the hidden things to light.
He keeps the key.
Is there some door closed by the Father's hand
Which widely opened you had hoped to see?
Trust God and wait--for when He shuts the door
He keeps the key.
Is there some earnest prayer unanswered yet,
Or answered
NOT as you had thought 'twould be?
God will make clear His purpose by-and-by.
He keeps the key.
Have patience with your God, your patient God,
All wise, all knowing, no long tarrier He,
And of the door of all thy future life
He keeps the key.
Unfailing comfort, sweet and blessed rest,
To know of
EVERY door He keeps the key.
That He at last when just
HE sees 'tis best,
Will give it
THEE.

--Anonymous

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Mother's Influence


Next to the sovereign grace of God, the influence of a mother's teachings and example is the most effective in molding character and shaping destiny. It is in the direction of moral training and the development of character, that the influence of the mother is most powerfully felt. The mother, more than anyone else, helps to clothe the immortal soul in garments of holiness and loveliness--or else in garments of sin and sorrow and shame. She weaves her child's habits of thought and conduct. She does this not only by direct deliberate teachings--but by little words and acts, and by silent unconscious influence.

Occasional exceptions do not shake the solid certainty of this rule: Show me the mother--and I will show you the man!


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


~J. R. Miller

Friday, January 5, 2018

Come Rest Awhile

by Lucy Maude Montgomery 1874-1942


Come rest awhile, and let us idly stray,
In glimmering valleys, cool and far away.

Come from the greedy mart, the troubled street,
And listen to the music, faint and sweet,

That echoes ever to a listening ear,
Unheard by those who will not pause to hear­

The wayward chimes of memory's pensive bells,
Wind-blown o'er misty hills and curtained dells.

One step aside and dewy buds unclose
The sweetness of the violet and the rose;

Song and romance still linger in the green,
Emblossomed ways by you so seldom seen,

And near at hand, would you but see them, lie
All lovely things beloved in days gone by.

You have forgotten what it is to smile
In your too busy life--­come, rest awhile.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Christian Character




Harmonious Development of Christian Character
by Harvey Newcomb, 1843

The design of clothing, then, is—
1. to furnish a modest covering for the body;
2. to provide a defense against the hostile elements;
3. perhaps to remind us of our spiritual nakedness and exposure to the wrath of God, and our need to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
From these ends we ought not to pervert it to the gratification of pride and vanity. But, if you will observe the following things in regard to your apparel, you will probably not go far astray—

1. All that we have is the Lord's. We have nothing but what he has given us; and this we have solemnly promised to employ in his service. We have no right, therefore, needlessly to squander it upon extravagant clothing. The apostle Paul directs women to adorn themselves with modest apparel, and discountenances the wearing of costly ornaments and jewelry. Peter also says that, instead of these, their adorning should be the "hidden person of the heart." The love of finery, or a fondness for mirthful apparel, is contrary to the spirit of these passages; nor is it easy to see how Christians can reconcile so much needless expense as is often lavished upon their dress, with the spirit of benevolence which the gospel breathes, when so many millions of precious souls are perishing without any knowledge of the only way of salvation, or while so many around them are suffering from poverty and need.

This is certainly contrary to the spirit of Christ. He who for our sakes became poor, who led a life of self-denial, toil, and suffering, that he might relieve distress and make known the way of salvation, could never have needlessly expended upon his clothing, what would have sent the gospel to the destitute, or supplied the needs of poverty. Extravagance in dress is, therefore, obviously inconsistent with the Christian character! But no precise rule can be laid down in relation to this matter. It must be left to the sober judgment of Christians; and a sanctified conscience will readily discern the bounds of propriety. By asking yourself two or three questions, whenever you think of purchasing a new article of dress, you may very easily decide upon the path of duty—"Do I need this? Is it necessary for my comfort, or for my decent appearance in society? Can I glorify God in wearing it?"

2. Your time is the Lord's. You have no right to waste it in useless attention to dress. One of the greatest evils of extravagant modes of dress is, that so much precious time is consumed at the mirror. I have already shown the value and importance of time, and the obligations of Christians to spend it in the most profitable manner. I need not here advance any new arguments to show that it is wrong to consume your time needlessly in the adjustment of your apparel.

3. It is duty to pay some regard to personal appearance. A Christian lady, by dressing slovenly, brings reproach upon the cause of Christ, instead of glorifying God. The apostle enjoins upon women to adorn themselves with modest apparel. Modesty signifies purity of sentiment and manners. When this idea is applied to dress, it immediately suggests to the mind a neatness, taste, and simplicity, alike opposed both to extravagance and finery, and to negligence and vulgar coarseness.

The exercise of a refined taste, in the adaptation and adjustment of apparel, may also be justified by the analogy of nature. Look abroad over the landscape, and see with what exquisite taste God has clothed the flowers of the field. There is a symmetry of proportion, a skilfulness of arrangement, and a fitness and adaptation of colors, which strike the eye with unmingled pleasure. And if God has shown a scrupulous regard to the pleasure of the eye, we may do the same.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Wise Trees Sleeping



All the complicated details of the attiring and the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon moves gently among the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds against a sure winter
the wise trees stand sleeping in the cold.

~William Carlos Williams

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Ritual of Sending Christmas Cards



"I have a list of folks I know, all written in a book
And every year when Christmas comes, I go and take a look,
And that is when I realize that these names are a part
Not of the book they are written in, but really of my heart
For each name stands for someone who has crossed my path sometime,
And in the meeting they've become the rhythm in each rhyme
And while it sounds fantastic for me to make this claim,
I really feel that I'm composed of each remembered name
And while you may not be aware of any special link
Just meeting you has changed my life a lot more than you think
For once I've met somebody, the years cannot erase
The memory of a pleasant word or of a friendly face
So never think my Christmas cards are just a mere routine
Of names upon a Christmas list, forgotten in between,
For when I send a Christmas card that is addressed to you,
It is because you're on the list that I'm indebted to
For I am but a total of the many folks I've met,
And you happen to be one of those I prefer not to forget
And whether I have known you for many years or few,
In some ways you have a part in shaping things I do
And every year when Christmas comes, I realize anew,
The best gifts life can offer is meeting folks like you.
And may the spirit of Christmas that forever endures
Leave its richest blessings in the hearts of you and yours
~Helen Steiner Rice


And may the spirit of Christmas that forever endures
Leave its richest blessings in the hearts of you and yours.
Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and the best New Year ever!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Stopping by the Woods


 

 Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
Source: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays (Library of America, 1995) 
 
Photograph:  my grandfather with a load of logs 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How like a winter


Sonnet 97

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

William Shakespeare

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Flowers or Thistles



"All my life I have tried
to pluck a thistle and plant a flower
wherever the flower would grow
in thought and mind."

~ Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865

Monday, December 18, 2017

Lo, How a Rose!


1 Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse's lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
It came, a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half-gone was the night.

2 Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind:
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind.
To show God's love aright
She bore to men a Savior
When half-gone was the night.
 
3 This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens every load
 
This “Twelfth Night” German carol from the Rhineland region combines the story of Luke 1-2 and Matthew 2 with Isaiah's prophecies about the "rose" from the "stem of Jesse " (Isa. 11:1; 35:1-2). Stanzas 1 and 2 are a combination of folklore ("amid the cold of winter") and Christological interpretation of Isaiah 11:1 and 35: 1-2. Stanza 3 introduces imagery from John 1.
Originally "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen," the carol may date back to the fifteenth century. However, the earliest manuscript containing the text, found in St. Alban's Carthusian monastery in Trier and preserved in the Trier munici¬pal library, is dated around 1580. It was first published with twenty-three stanzas in Alte catholische geistliche Kirchengesiinge (Cologne, 1599). Originally stanza 2 interpreted the "rose" as being Mary, mother of Jesus. But in Musae Sionae (1609) Michael Praetorius changed the interpretation to point to Christ as the rose in accord with actual biblical imagery. In that hymnbook Praetorius published only stanzas 1 and 2.
The English translation of stanzas 1 and 2 in the Psalter Hymnal are by Theodore Baker (b. New York, NY, 1851; d. Dresden, Germany, 1934) and are possibly from anthem setting published by G. Schirmer, Inc., in 1894 when Baker was music editor there. Baker is well known as the compiler of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (first ed. 1900), the first major music reference work that included American composers. Baker studied music in Leipzig, Germany, and wrote a dissertation on the music of the Seneca people of New York State–one of the first studies of the music of American Indians. From 1892 until his retirement in 1926, Baker was a literary editor and translator for G. Schirmer, Inc., in New York City. In 1926, he returned to Germany.
Stanza 3 is a translation by Gracia Grindal (b. Powers Lake, ND, 1943), originally published in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). Grindal was educated at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota; the University of Arkansas; and Luther-Northwestern Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, where she has served since 1984 as a professor of pastoral theology and communications. From 1968 to 1984 she was a professor of English and poet-in-residence at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. Included in her publications are Sketches Against the Dark (1981), Scandinavian Folksongs (1983), Lessons in Hymnwriting (1986, 1991), and We Are One in Christ: Hymns, Paraphrases, and Translations (1996). She was instrumental in producing the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and The United Methodist Hymnal (1989).
 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Waiting



My Father — teach my restless soul to wait

Until Thy hand shall open wide the gate

And lead me into knowledge, lest I stray,

And miss Thy purpose on this unknown way —

Lest sometimes, in the dark,

I wonder how Love can permit its own to suffer now —

Why joy is linked with sorrow — gain with loss,

And why the sad way of the cross

Must always be The only road which leads us up to Thee.

For pain and grief are slow to reach

The meaning of the lesson Thou wouldst teach, —

Are slow to learn that all Thy Thoughts are wise,

And often fail to recognise The Father's heart of love

Which always reigns above.

I read the story of these lives of ours ; —

The path that yesterday was strewn with flowers

Is thorny now ; the hearts that seemed to hold

No place for gloom, are desolate and cold :

I see the weakest falling in the strife —

The ruin sin has made in human life ;

I see how certainly on all

Sometime the hand of Care must fall —

How Love must see her dearest drift alone

Into the silence of the great unknown,

And leave no ray of hope to cheer

The breaking hearts which still must linger here.

Edith Hickman

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Friendship




We share these loves, my friend and I:
Bubbling brooks, a pink and blue sky,
Delicate mists, soft winds that sing,
Fragile snowflakes, violets in spring.
We share these loves, my friend and I:
Ruffled curtains, a latticed pie,
Flower-filled vases, cozy nooks,
An open fire, rows of books.
We share these loves, my friend and I:
Happy thoughts, aims that are high,
The warmth of friendship,
Pleasure in giving,
Faith in God, and real joy in living.
~Adeline Roseberg

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Prayer



Teach us to value most eternal things…
To find the happiness that giving brings...
To know the peace of misty, distant hills…
To know the joy that giving self fulfills…
To realize anew this Christmas Day…
The things we keep are those we give away

Marvin Davis Winsett

Monday, December 11, 2017

Echoes of Life



Grandma passed away when my father was very small, leaving Grandpa a widower for the second time. This photograph may have been taken shortly before their wedding day. My aunt who was also quite young has sweet wistful memories of her dear mother, described as having beautiful long red hair. She was known for her sweet, gentle ways and her beautiful smile.

My thoughtful aunt recently gave me the unfinished quilt Grandma had started before she died in the thirties, a precious fragment of a beautiful, simple life, seeming left unfinished. I noticed how carefully she stitched the edges of this quilt!

She was a strong Christian whose elusive sweet fragrance still wafts through our memories and envelopes even the grand daughter she never knew with the carefully stitched pieces of her love.

I found this poem in her scrapbook:

God"s Way
God moves in a mysterious way
Althou' we cannot see
He has such wonders to perform
To help you and me.
Strange things may happen here and there -
We wonder why 'tis so
But God has reasons for such things
That happen 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 'neath 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
Inceasing fear and woe
In tantalizing cruel ways
That tempts 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.
~Belle Tooley Stacy
Echoes of Life
a clipping from Grandma's c.1930 scrapbook

Sunday, December 10, 2017

First Snow


When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago,
And etched on vacant places
Are half-forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know.

~Ella Wheeler Wilcox ("Christmas Fancies" Poems of Power)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Gratitude


"Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies."

~Charles E. Jefferson

Friday, December 8, 2017

Candlelit Heart



"Somewhere across the winter world tonight
You will be hearing chimes that fill the air;
Christmas extends its all-enfolding light
Across the distance...something we can share.
You will be singing, just the same as I,
These familiar songs we know so well,
And you will see these same stars in your sky
And wish upon that brightest one that fell.
I shall remember you and trim my tree,
One shining star upon the topmost bough;
I will hang wreaths of faith that all may see -
Tonight I glimpse beyond the here and now.
And all the time that we must be apart
I keep a candle in my heart."-

Mary E. Linton, Candlelit Heart

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Only For Today


I came across this list of worthy aspirations a few years ago and would do well to take each of them to heart:
"Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

To conclude: here is an all-embracing resolution: "I want to be kind, today and always, to everyone."

"Every believer in this world must be a spark of light, a core of love, life-giving leaven in the mass: and the more he is so, the more he will live, in his innermost depths, in communion with God."

~The Decalogue of Pope John XXIII

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Simple Joys



They miss so much who do not know
The simple joys of long ago.
The quiet hour, the easy pace,
A path to walk, a day to face.
A small white flower, a bird that sings,
The happiness in the little things.
The patience for a task, well done,
The gift of rest at set of sun.
The thankful heart, the lift of care,
A friend nearby, a time of prayer.
How much they miss who do not know
The simple joys found long ago.
~by Amy Perrin 

Photography:  Bruce W. Lowery

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

There's a Rose



There's a Rose in Bethlehem
With a beauty quite divine
Perfect in this world of sin
On this silent, holy night

There's a fragrance much like hope
That it sends upon the wind
Reaching out to every soul
From a lowly manger's crib

Oh, Rose of Bethlehem
How lovely, pure and sweet
Born to glorify the Father
Born to wear the thorns for me

There's a Rose in Bethlehem
Colored red like mercy's blood
Tis the flower of our faith
Tis the blossom of God?s love

Though its bloom is fresh with youth
Surely what will be He knows
For a tear of morning dew
Is rolling down the Rose

There's a Rose in Bethlehem
With a beauty quite divine
Perfect in this world of sin
On this silent, holy night

author unknown

Monday, December 4, 2017

Under the Leaves



I am ever-amazed at all that happens beneath the dank cold earth, mouldy leaves and icy snows of winter. Have seen violas blooming under the ice and even picked some! Then there are those stalwart spring bulbs that poke through the cold earth on a sunny day in late winter only to be buried beneath more ice and snow, their case looking dismal at base to the casual observer. Surely does give one pause!

How do we fare in parallel circumstances? A friend introduced me to the author of this thought which will linger ever in my heart:



"John did no miracle:
but all things that John spake of this man were true"
(John 10:41).
"You may be very discontented with yourself. You are no genius, have no brilliant gifts, and are inconspicuous for any special faculty. Mediocrity is the law of your existence. Your days are remarkable for nothing but sameness and insipidity. Yet you may live a great life.
John did no miracle, but Jesus said that among those born of women there had not appeared a greater than he.

John's main business was to bear witness to the Light, and this may be yours and mine. John was content to be only a voice, if men would think of Christ.

Be willing to be only a voice, heard but not seen; a mirror whose surface is lost to view, because it reflects the dazzling glory of the sun; a breeze that springs up just before daylight, and says, "The dawn! the dawn!" and then dies away.

Do the commonest and smallest things as beneath His eye. If you must live with uncongenial people, set to their conquest by love. If you have made a great mistake in your life, do not let it becloud all of it; but, locking the secret in your breast, compel it to yield strength and sweetness.
We are doing more good than we know, sowing seeds, starting streamlets, giving men true thoughts of Christ, to which they will refer one day as the first things that started them thinking of Him; and, of my part, I shall be satisfied if no great mausoleum is raised over my grave, but that simple souls shall gather there when I am gone, and say,"

"He was a good man; he wrought no miracles, but he spake words about Christ, which led me to know Him for myself." --George Matheson
"THY HIDDEN ONES" (Psa. 83:3)
"Thick green leaves from the soft brown earth,
Happy springtime hath called them forth;
First faint promise of summer bloom
Breathes from the fragrant, sweet perfume,
Under the leaves.
"Lift them! what marvelous beauty lies
Hidden beneath, from our thoughtless eyes!
Mayflowers, rosy or purest white,
Lift their cups to the sudden light,
Under the leaves.
 "Are there no lives whose holy deeds--
Seen by no eye save His who reads
Motive and action--in silence grow
Into rare beauty, and bud and blow
Under the leaves?
"Fair white flowers of faith and trust,
Springing from spirits bruised and crushed;
Blossoms of love, rose-tinted and bright,
Touched and painted with Heaven's own light
Under the leaves.
"Full fresh clusters of duty borne,
Fairest of all in that shadow grown;
Wondrous the fragrance that sweet and rare
Comes from the flower-cups hidden there
Under the leaves.
"Though unseen by our vision dim,
Bud and blossom are known to Him;
Wait we content for His heavenly ray--
Wait till our Master Himself one day
Lifteth the leaves."
"God calls many of His most valued workers from the unknown multitude" Luke 14:23

~Cowman's Streams in the Desert (1925)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Complaining


That is something that seems to be the "norm" these days. "Every time I turn around" (as my mother used to say) somebody is complaining about something, be it the weather, the effects thereof, their health, their circumstances, not to mention all those petty "annoyances" that come our way throughout the day. I have to admit, as I was reminded by the following quotation posted by Karen Gray, that I did not always see these things as opportunities meant for our learning:
"You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies - though that never occurs to you. Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet [God's] beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is."

~Jean-Pierre de Caussade, A Guide to Prayer for All God's People

"Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
(I Corinthians 10:10-13)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

I'll Stay




There was a time when this avid gardener was very social, with friends coming and going, attending meetings, Bible studies, rehearsals, concerts, parties, and much more. But deep inside there was an unrequited longing that no amount of activity, earthly friendship or success in the worldly sense could satisfy. I remember my husband suggesting that it might make more sense to tend my own gardens instead of going to meetings and just talking about it. Hmmm . . .

It was about then that I started spending more time working in the gardens . . . and as I worked I discovered time for meditating on the precious truths I was studying during my quiet time. These truths needed to be planted and nourished in well-prepared ground to grow and bloom within my heart. It was there the Master Gardener began to really cultivate the garden of my heart.

I'll stay where You've put me;
I will, dear Lord,
Though I wanted so badly to go;

I was eager to march with the 'rank and file,
'
Yes, I wanted to lead them, You know.
I planned to keep step to the music loud,
To cheer when the banner unfurled,

To stand in the midst of the fight straight and proud,
But I'll stay where You've put me.
I'll stay where You've put me;
I'll work, dear Lord,

Though the field be narrow and small,

And the ground be fallow, and the stones lie thick,
And there seems to be no life at all.

The field is Thine own, only give me the seed,
I'll sow it with never a fear;
I'll till the dry soil while I wait for the rain,
And rejoice when the green blades appear;
I'll work where You've put me.
Align Center I'll stay where You've put me;
I will, dear Lord;
I'll bear the day's burden and heat,
Always trusting Thee fully; when even has come
I'll lay heavy sheaves at Thy feet.
And then, when my earth work is ended and done,
In the light of eternity's glow,
Life's record all closed,
I surely shall find
It was better to stay than to go;
I'll stay where You've put me.
. . . be thou there until I bring thee word.
Matthew 2:13

"Oh restless heart, that beat against your prison bars of circumstances, yearning for a wider sphere of usefulness, leave God to order all your days. Patience and trust, in the dullness of the routine of life, will be the best preparation for a courageous bearing of the tug and strain of the larger opportunity which God may some time send you."
~Mrs. Chas. Cowman

Friday, December 1, 2017

Home Sweet Home



Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!
An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain;
Oh, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gayly, that come at my call --
Give me them -- and the peace of mind, dearer than all!
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!
I gaze on the moon as I tread the drear wild,
And feel that my mother now thinks of her child,
As she looks on that moon from our own cottage door
Thro' the woodbine, whose fragrance shall cheer me no more.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!
How sweet 'tis to sit 'neath a fond father's smile,
And the caress of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!
To thee I'll return, overburdened with care;
The heart's dearest solace will smile on me there;
No more from that cottage again will I roam;
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet, home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!
John Howard Payne (1791-1852)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Motherhood



"Oh that God would give every mother a vision
of the glory and splendor of the work
that is given to her
when a babe is place in her bosom to be nursed and trained!
Could she have but one glimpse in to the future of that life
as it reaches on into eternity;
could she look into it's soul to see its possibilities;
could she be made to understand her own personal responsibility for the training of this child,
for the development of its life, and for its destiny,--
she would see that in all God's world there is no other work so noble
and so worthy of her best powers,
and she would commit to no others hands the sacred and holy trust given to her."

-JR Miller

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nearer


Glad that I live am I;
That the sky is blue,
Glad for the country lanes,
And the fall of dew.
After the sun the rain,
After the rain the sun;
This is the way of life,
Til the work be done.
All that we need to do,
Be we low or high,
Is to see that we grow
Nearer the sky.
--"A Little Song of Life" by Lizette Woodworth Reese (1856-1935)
from "Poems to Live By" selected by Joy Elmer Morgan
“He saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to Heaven,
and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.”
Genesis 28:11-12

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!
Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God to Thee.

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee

Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.

Verses 1-5, Sar­ah F. Adams in Hymns and Anthems, by William Johnson Fox, 1841;
verse 6, Ed­ward H. Bick­er­steth, Jr.