Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Charles Dickens, Man of Conviction

Charles Dickens was the most popular novelist of the Victorian era, and one of the most popular of all time. He was responsible for some of English literature's most memorable characters. His novels are filled with phrases from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. He believed Christianity should include charity and goodwill toward all humanity. He devoted his voice and pen to the plight of orphaned children and worked to improve their education. His wish was that no child would face the hardship he knew as a young boy growing up in poverty and working in the factories of London. I found this prayer that is attributed to him -we can picture him at 12 years old, being forced to work in a factory to help with family finances, asking God for help. I try to pray often for  those who are in desperation, that God will hear them when they call out to Him in despair...

A Child's Prayer

Hear my prayer, O heavenly Father,
Ere I lay me down to sleep;
Bid Thy angels, pure and holy
Round my bed their vigils keep.

My sins are heavy but Thy mercy
Far outweighs them every one;
Down before Thy cross I cast them,
Trusting in Thy help alone.

Keep me through this night of peril
Underneath its boundless shade;
Take me to Thy rest, I pray Thee,
When my pilgrimage is made.

None shall measure out Thy patience
By the span of human thought;
None shall bound Thy tender mercies
Which Thy holy Son has bought.

Pardon all my past transgressions,
Give me strength for days to come;
Guide and guard me with Thy blessing
Till Thy angels bid me home.

Charles Dickens, 1812-1870

I am really impressed and inspired by the phrase "None shall bound Thy tender mercies which Thy holy Son has bought." No way can the mercy of Christ be limited! I LOVE THIS!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Welcome Home, Marine

We are having a great weekend at our house! Benjamin has made it home for good- no more returning to California and other points on the compass! His discharge from the Marines was finalized Thursday- designated "General under Honorable Conditions". We have great gratitude to God for this answer to prayer- praise for all the things He worked out for this to be accomplished- praise that the Holy Spirit guided our prayers and inspired us in this BIG THING in all our lives- praise that God worked according to His Word that says "...the Lord...redeemeth thy life from destruction and crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies." (Psalm 103) I know his total story cannot be made public in a setting like this, and if I were to try to explain it all it would take a long time, but suffice it to say Jesus proved to him that He loves him and saved him from what he could not save himself from. Some may not  know that he was involved in high school in Self- Infliction, which really disqualified him from being accepted in the USMC, but after many tries his recruiter was able to get him passed in. He survived boot camp with high recommendations from his Drill Instructors, and in SOI (School of Infantry) loved his training, to a point. After hitting "the fleet", a lot of hazing happened and this resurrected some old troubles, resulting in him being reported by one of his buds for suicidal talk...He was admitted twice to Balboa Naval Hospital for treatment, which resulted in a diagnosis of Personality Disorder with Borderline traits. His doctors recommended an Admin-Sep and it finally was signed off by the General this week, after an agonizingly long wait (for Benjamin). Of course, this is a very condensed version with a lot of details left out...but it's all over now and he is happy to be home. Now the adjustments to civilian life have to be worked through...He is proud of what he did get accomplished, and glad of what he learned that he would never have learned any other way, but he has struggled with many issues and ambivilant feelings. The Marine Corps has left its mark on him and changed him in many ways for the better. All our lives have been changed- speaking for myself I pray for the military now like I never did before, knowing now firsthand some of the struggles they go through, particularly mental. I do feel like his diagnosis is accurate-- when I researched it for myself I recognize it is accurate, knowing my son like I do!! I can confidently say that God is with us! and working for good in our lives- Benjamin now can freely admit this. He told us on the long drive home, somewhere in Arizona he left his "old man" somewhere on the side of the road (meaning he received salvation) and that God had proved Himself to him. Our relief is great and our hearts are full of thankfulness for this wonderful, happy conclusion to this last "1 year, 1 month and 2 days" !! We have prayed so many prayers during this time!...I wonder what the count would be!
Me, Ben, Julia and David

A big hug for father and son while happy mom looks on

Brother and Sister- Ben and gal pal Al

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Impertinent Poem

Here's a great old poem that should bring a smile and provoke some deep thinking...

How Did You Die?

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
with a resolute heart, and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
with a craven soul, and fearful?
Oh, a trouble's a ton,
or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it.
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only, how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth?
Well, well -- what's that?!
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there -- THAT's disgrace.
The harder you're thrown,
why, the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts;
It's how did you fight? and why?

And though you be done to death,
what then?!
If you battled the best you could;
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl,
or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow, or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only, HOW DID YOU DIE?

By Edmund Vance Cooke
from Impertinent Poems, 1903

I don't know how I ran across this poem, but I found it in a "stack of stuff" as Rush Limbaugh says. I am posting this at the public library, so I cannot enter my usual ending signature rose... A Great Week to all who happen to read this post! Don't forget to Pray For America...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

River of No Return

I am happy to share a bit of writing from one of my favorite devotional books, By the River of No Return, by Don Ian Smith. Mr. Smith passed to his eternal home in 2007- here is a link to a page his son has prepared, and who graciously gave me permission to post from his father's writings. http://www.engineer-exchange.com/content/view/62/94/  Thank you Rockwell Smith for responding to my email!

To one who enjoys the out-of-doors, one of the greatest experiences possible is a trip on the Salmon River, Idaho’s famed “River of No Return” that runs from east to west across the state through a wilderness, through a canyon deeper than the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. This river runs so fast and through such a wilderness, you know when you start the trip that you are going all the way, no matter what! There can be no turning back. So for several days you ride the rapids, trusting completely in your boat and your guide, knowing that if these fail, all is lost; yet knowing with a certain sense of joy and wonder that the boat and the guide are trustworthy.
For me, the River of No Return has become a symbol of life. Yesterday is always gone forever, a part of the river we have already run. Tomorrow is always unknown, a part of the river that lies ahead, around a bend, hidden by the towering walls of the canyon. But we do not fear. With confidence in a God who is trustworthy and guides us, carried by a faith that sustains us and our fellow believers in the church, we find a sense of joy and wonder as we make the trip, looking always ahead to that which God has prepared for them that love Him.

Watching a boat slip away from the dock at Salmon to begin the long journey- usually about ten days- down the river, one is gripped by the seriousness of a journey on which there can be no going back; a journey on which the only hope lies in pressing onward toward the goal of a safe passage. Often, as I see a baby who has just started the journey of life, I am gripped with the same feeling. Surely his only hope lies in making a safe passage on a river which permits no going back. The human spirit must be ever pressing forward for something better tomorrow; always seeking the joy, wonder, and excitement of a one-way trip through fascinating country. How often we try to live as if we could go back. We spend hours yearning for “good old days” that can never come again. Jesus was thinking of this when He said, “He who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom.” It is His way of saying that we cannot drive safely in life by watching the rearview mirror. The story of Lot’s wife points out this same truth. When the future was calling her, she kept looking back to the past, and she turned into the most useless thing one can imagine- a pillar of salt in a thirsty, parched desert.

We cannot go back, but we can press on, with the living God as our helper in facing problems and overcoming them. We can live with a faith that will make good the days that are ahead. Life is a river of no return. Its destiny is always by some distant sea where we have never been and from which we will never return. There is always a restlessness; an eagerness to be on its way. There is really never any stopping for anything. As Christians, we should know that though there have been some interesting and exciting things on the upper reaches of the river, with God’s guidance there are greater things ahead downstream. We hear the rapids, we tighten the buckles on our life jackets, and we accept the challenge of the rapids with joy and hope. We see the bend in the river and the steep canyon walls. We do not look with fear. Like Abraham, we lift up our eyes to a distant land and go forth, not knowing the way, but knowing God has promised us the land.
Sometimes we wish we could see into the future; perhaps send a scout down the river ahead of us to tell us what is there. But it is not that way. God says, “Live by faith. I have brought you safely this far and I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” Maybe the next bend in the river is the last one, or perhaps it is just the beginning of a long stretch of peace. We do not know. We cannot know. In terms of eternity, it really doesn’t matter very much as long as we are riding the river with joy and love, confident that we are in His hands. So we move on down the river, in faith and gladness, free of worry about tomorrow, free to enjoy the scenery and the excitement and fellowship of our fellow travelers today. We look toward tomorrow knowing that because of the Father’s love, it will be good.

from the book "By the River of No Return" by Don Ian Smith- rancher, teacher, preacher, pastor, river-rider!

(all pictures are of the Salmon River in Idaho and came from Google Images)

Monday, March 15, 2010

For Michael and Rene

When my husband's paternal grandmother Opal Kelly died, my father-in-law allowed us to keep one of her books, The Bible, A New Translation, by James Moffatt. I really enjoy reading in this version of scripture, now so hard to come by. I have tried to find a newer copy as this one is very battered, but they seem to be pretty scarce. Ours is the 1935 printing; I think Moffatt's version was first presented in 1922. In my past I had heard different ministers quote from Moffatt, and so far I have been blessed with fresh inspiration from reading this version. I am reading in The Psalms right now and as I came to Psalm 138 a few days ago, a dear minister friend and his wife came to mind! They have been going through one of the great trials of affliction that the Lord sometimes allows His children to encounter. This Psalm is subtitled "a song of David" and sounds like a prayer to me...I pray this will be what my friends are able to say when "it's all over", and that God will perform His word to them, the promises He has inspired to them. Amen, Lord! (So be it!)

A Song Of David
Psalm 138

With all my heart I thank Thee
I sing Thy praise in face of all the gods,
for Thou has listened to my cry;
I bow before Thy sacred shrine to praise Thee
for Thy love so true,
that far excels all ever known of Thee;
the very day I call,
Thine answer comes
with courage to inspire my soul!
When kings on earth hear of Thy mind
and methods,
they shall all praise Thee, O Eternal One,
and sing Thy providence;
for great is the Eternal's sovereign might;
He looks upon the lowly from His height,
and from afar He strikes the haughty down.
Though I must pass through the thick of trouble,
Thou wilt preserve me;
Thy hand shall fall upon my angry foes,
Thy right hand rescues me.
The Eternal intervenes on my behalf;
Eternal One, Thy kindness never fails.
Thou wilt not drop the work Thou hast begun.

(all pictures from Google Images)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sunday Favorites- "Tell God"

rain drop gif Pictures, Images and Photos

"Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart to a dear friend. People who have no secrets from each other never lack subjects of conversation; they do not weigh their words, because there is nothing to be kept back. Neither do they seek for something to say; they talk out of the abundance of their hearts, just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.


How rare to find a soul still enough to hear God speak."
-Francois De Fenelon

Peace And Quiet Pictures, Images and Photos

Thank You, Father, for this moment of quiet, and for the strength to pick up my tasks again, renewed and refreshed because I have paused to be with You. For the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. -Sherwood E. Wirt, "The Quiet Corner"

"The privilege of prayer to me is one of the most cherished possessions because faith and experience alike convince me that God Himself sees and answers, and His answers I never venture to criticize. It is only my part to ask. It is entirely His to give or withhold, as He knows is best. If it were otherwise, I would not dare to pray at all. In the quiet of home, in the heat of life and strife, in the face of death, the privilege of speech with God is inestimable. I value it more because it calls for nothing that the wayfaring man, though a fool, cannot give - that is, the simplest expression to his simplest desire. When I can neither see, nor hear, nor speak, still I can pray so that God can hear. When I finally pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I expect to pass through it in conversation with Him."
-Sir Wilfred Grenfell

Quiet Evening Peace Pictures, Images and Photos

Once again I am linking up to Sunday Favorites, where bloggers can re-share one of their favorite posts. This was my second ever post! I love these pictures I found from Google Images and Photobucket.
To join this blog party, go to my left column and click on the Sunday Favorites button.

Friday, March 12, 2010

God's Grandeur -a poem

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
 It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
 It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil crushed.
Why do men then now not reck His rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
and wears man's smudge and shares man's smell:
the soil is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went,
Oh! morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent world
broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844-1889

This is a thought-provoking poem and requires concentrated thought to understand, also! But I like it. Hopkins struggled with his great talent and his concept of religious life, somehow not quite sure that poetry should belong to a life of faith. He was finally convinced that his talent was God-given, a wonderful and special gift. His expressions, unconventional rhythms, and celebrations of the beauty of God speak of a very unique character. I took the liberty of setting out the lines in a way that, to me, makes this great poem easier to follow...that's why the beginning word in every line is not capitalized.

Monday, March 8, 2010

An Invitation to Pray- from Jesus

"And it came to pass, that, as he (Jesus) was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them..." (Luke 11:1,2)  Then follows what is commonly known as The Lord's Prayer - Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...etc. After giving His disciples this "formula", Jesus went on to give them great encouragement to pray, and to BELIEVE that their Heavenly Father wanted to answer their prayers!

One of Jesus' most characteristic teachings is the concept of God as Father. In the Old Testament, the Lord seems to be depicted usually as the God of the nation, while in the New Testament, Jesus brings God near to the individual. In the first recorded words of Jesus, in Luke 2:49, He uses this title for God,'My Father'.
Jesus used this intimate name for God in all of His prayers. You know, this is one concept that Islam does not have. There is a wonderful book you can find on Amazon about a Muslim woman's conversion to Christianity, 'I Dared To Call Him Father' by Bilquis Sheikh. This prominent woman lived in Pakistan in the 1960's. She tells of how she came to find this Father-God concept so sweet! I recommend this book very highly. Here's a link so you can find it easily.  http://www.amazon.com/Dared-Call-Him-Father-Miraculous/dp/0800793242/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267938339&sr=8-1

Back to my original thought of Jesus encouraging His disciples to think of God as a kindly Father - He went on to explain this to them very clearly. I am setting this up as a type of free verse poem. It makes the passage more beautiful, I think, to see it this way.

Ask, and It Shall Be Given

Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek, and ye shall find;
knock and it shall be opened unto you.

For every one that asketh receiveth:
and he that seeketh findeth:
and to him that knocketh
it shall be opened.

If a son shall ask bread
of any of you that is a father,
will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish,
will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Or if he shall ask an egg,
will he offer him a scorpion?

If ye then, being evil,
know how to give good gifts
unto your children:

how much more
shall your heavenly Father
give the Holy Spirit
to them that ask Him?

Luke 11: 9-13

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sunday Favorite - Saying "Grace"

Sunday Favorites Post Time! A fast  post to do for Sundays- and I am trying to keep mine in spirit with what Sunday is all about- a special day to think on spiritual things. Chari @ Happy to Design is hosting this "blog party" so we bloggers can have an easy day of it.  http://happytodesign.blogspot.com/2010/03/welcome-to-46th-sunday-favorites-sunday.html   Click on the button in my left column to find out how to join the party, or click on the html code  just above to go to this week's collection. (I am actually doing this on Saturday, so Sunday will really be free!)

This is the original post first dated October 28, 2009...

Whether it's called "saying grace," "table prayers" or "giving thanks," offering a blessing before a meal is probably the most common form of prayer in American homes. "We, as people of faith, understand everything we have is a gift from God, including the things that sustain us on a daily basis," said the Rev. Vince Rohn, a pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Springfield. "That's why we teach our kids to say grace before a meal. We want to thank God for providing us with that gift."

At a more secular level, a declaration of gratitude at the dinner table can strengthen the bonds of fellowship for those eating together, emphasizing the joy of belonging. Giving thanks for food can be seen in every culture and religion, according to the book "Bless This Food: Ancient & Contemporary Graces From Around the World" by Adrian Butash.

Some people improvise when saying grace, while others recite a specific prayer. Rohn recommends getting children involved by teaching them a simple blessing and asking them to recite it before a meal. "My son simply says, 'Thank you Jesus, for food, family and friends.'" Another easy blessing for children, Rohn said, is "God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food." Rohn says a standard grace prayer can be customized. "What our family has started doing is having the kids say 'God is great, God is good' and then my wife and I will follow with an extemporaneous prayer thanking the Lord for the day or something special or for watching over a family member who is ill," he said.

(the above writing  is from Kathryn Rem, Gatehouse News Service, April 24, 2009)

My Louisiana family started a tradition of holding hands around the table while “saying grace” back when the grandkids started arriving. My little ones had learned the prayer, “God is great, God is good, now we thank Him for our food; By thy hand, we are fed, Thank you God for daily bread”, and my daddy began to have us say this all together when we would all be gathered at the home place. He has passed on now but we still do this when we all get together at my mother’s home, almost without fail.

In Norman Rockwell's autobiography he gives the story behind this picture. A reader of the Saturday Evening Post sent him a suggestion that he eventually used for this painting, which was the most popular cover he ever did. A woman in Philadelphia had seen a Mennonite family saying grace in an automat and she thought Mr. Rockwell could use the idea. He painted a Thanksgiving cover of an old woman and a little boy saying grace in a railroad cafeteria, watched by the people around them- some surprised, some puzzled.(From his April 29, 1959 diary)

For more about saying grace, visit this beautiful blogspot.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Change Is Here!

When I first started this blog last fall, I mentioned in my profile that change was in the air...well it has arrived!

Change #1- my daughter Alison, now 19, has moved out to share a house with her best friend Shelese.
(Here she is, in their little kitchen, showing off her new house key)
Change #2- Julia finally can get her own room- after waiting so long!

Change #3- Galen has a new job! (which is really the change I had in mind when I posted that remark)  He is going back to the oil field- back to work for his old boss who gave him a scholarship out of high school and who hired him after completing his 2 year course.

Galen worked in the oilfield for 18 years as a pumper, then left to come up here to Oklahoma City to pursue something else, which has not turned out at all as we had dreamed it would...anyway, for years we have prayed for guidance and a "reliable income"(we have been here 10 years now).  We have a wonderful story to tell of God working this out for us, but that may have to come some other time... Mr. Warren, you are our guardian angel! Galen started this Monday March 1- up in Ponca City, Ok. He will be having to stay in a little apartment ALONE until the kids get out of school this season and then we can all move up there together! He came home tonight to unload a truckload of metal building supplies, then it's back again early in the morning...I will not be able to post much because we have to use an air card for internet access here, and he must take it with him. I know I can go to the library to blog, but I'm not sure how I can do pictures that way...   And... when it rains, it pours! The transmission on the pickup is acting up and may have to be replaced- - the apartment will be an added expense- - we had to get insurance coverage for him and had to pay it all up front since we are new clients- - one of our rentals must have the septic tank pumped ASAP- - the last of the ad valorem taxes is due! So, still no extra money to hoard up!

But, our hope is in God, the maker of heaven and earth!
Not a leprechaun with a pot of gold...

God will work it all out, somehow! I have faith!