Monday, February 28, 2011

A hymn for the week...

Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord, by Horatius Bonar

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.

I dare not choose my lot;
I would not if I might;
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So shall I walk aright.

The kingdom that I seek
Is Thine, so let the way
That leads to it be Thine,
Else I must surely stray.

Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.

Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness and 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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sabbath Songs

May the mind of Christ My Savior,  words by Kate B. Wilkinson, 1913

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

His grace is sufficient...

This morning I am fighting not one, but two migraines.  They came on me after I went for blood work, as I arrived at Curves to get a little exercise. I took my medication, and am functioning fairly well.  And as I have aged, the headaches have decreased in severity, making them fairly manageable most of the time.

I began getting migraines at about the age of 5 or 6, and starting at that time and throughout my high school and early college years, they were fairly severe. They usually included pain, nausea and vomiting, numbness in my hands and feet, and severe noise and light sensitivity. I spent a good deal of time in a dark bed, with a good deal of time to think and pray.  I have redeemed a lot of  my migraine time by praying for others.  It is always healthy to get ones mind off of oneself, after all, and praying for those whose needs are greater than your own is a good way to get perspective.

Sometime in high school, I first studied the passage about Paul's suffering in 2 Corinthians 12:
7So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me,  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Now, I haven't had the surpassing greatness of revelation that Paul had, but God has blessed me beyond measure, and these dratted headaches have surely kept me more humble than I would otherwise have been. I have always wondered if Paul had migraines.   Like him, I have pleaded for these things to stop.  But also like him, God's answer has been that His grace must be sufficient for me in and through them instead.

So today I am fuzzy around the edges, and have the vaguest hint of a headache, and may need to take a nap.  But I choose to look at this as an opportunity to see how God will make Himself sufficient for me today.  May you find Him sufficient for all your needs today also, Gentle Reader!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Geocaching in a beautiful place...

Geocaching takes you to some lovely places, even ones close to home! If you don't know what geocaching is, you can get more details here,  but think of it as a geeky way to get outside and combine a walk with a treasure hunt.  Dave and I have been enjoying this little game for about a year now, and have managed to find almost 80 caches so far.  And we have sent a travel bug all the way to Belgrade, Serbia.  Our next project is to plan and place out own cache for others to find.  We are almost ready to unveil it! If you are looking for a fun way to get exercise, Gentle Reader, grab a GPS and a friend, and give it a try! Still need convincing?  Look at these lovely sights from a stormy Saturday last weekend. Although I guess it helps to live in such a beautiful place...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sabbath Songs

Not What My Hands Have Done by Horatius Bonar (1861)

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light.
’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quite a day...

Well, Gentle Reader, I survived my scopes, and other than a few uncomfortable hours on Thursday evening, it was just fine. That is how I know many people were praying for me: your prayers were answered, and God carried me through it all!  Thank you!  The good news is that the doctor gave me a clean bill of health.  The not-so-good news is that he could not find any sign of bleeding, and hence no hint of a reason why I lost so much iron..  We are not sure what that means at this point, but my vote is that we just stop looking for a while.  Next week I will have blood work done and see the oncologist, and discuss all of this with her. 

Also yesterday, my eldest ds, Ben, was the first to come upon a serious car accident, and found himself pulling a young woman from an upside-down, smoking car.  I am very proud of his bravery. You can read more about it here. Please pray for th young woman, for Ben who has memories he would rather not have, and for the others who stood and watched and wouldn't help him.

Also pray for Ben's wife, Elsa, and her family, who lost Elsa's last grandfather last night. She told me on the phone that her parents are both orphans now. What a poignant reminder that we are sojourners and pilgrims here, and earth is not our home. Our earthly loss is heaven's gain, as Grandpa. Nickels is in the presence of his Lord, and reunited with loved ones there.

It was quite a day altogether. And I rejoice in the fact that the One who planned each step of that day invites me to call Him father forever.  Blessed be His name!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Most recently completed quilting project...

This is my most recently completed quilt, which has already been sent off to the Great Aunt who inspired it.  It was my first time working with combining photo-on-fabric and sewn text.  And I learned a lot about what NOT to do...Sometimes you have a picture in your mind of how something will work, but you realize at some point that the project has a life of its own, and will not look how you envisioned it. At that point, as the "Great Aunt" says, one has to remember that others do not have that same mental picture to compare it to that you do.  That is a comforting thought.  But I still told her not to hang this where anyone would see it...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A cheerful heart...

Today I am prepping for some tests scheduled for tomorrow.  I will have an upper endoscopy and a colonoscopy in the hopes of finding something that is slowly bleeding somewhere in my GI tract, and causing my iron deficiency problems.  I have been dreading this day.  But I know many must be praying because, so far, the day has gone well.  But I haven't yet started drinking the "Movi-Prep", as Dave Barry calls it. (And if you have never read Dave Barry's piece on colonoscopies, Gentle Reader, you must!)

I know I must have sounded bad on the phone yesterday when I spoke to my mother, because today I received this lovely, cheerful bunch of flowers from her.  You know moms.  She hears the fear in your voice, and has to do something.  So she sends lovely, cheerful  flowers.  Thanks, Mom! A cheerful heart is, truly, good medicine!

And thanks to all who are praying for me.  I would appreciate prayers for a good night's sleep tonight, and for the doc to find what he's looking for tomorrow, and fix it right then.  I'll let you all know how it turns out. And in the meantime, I am working to keep that cheerful heart.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday with few words...

Happy half-birthday, Miss Emma Joy!  We are rejoicing on this 6-month anniversary of your entry into the world. You grabbed our hearts on that day, and you have held them ever since!

Monday, February 14, 2011

One more Valentine's Day post...

...because I can't resist...

More Valentine's Day inspiration...

Fly by Sara Groves   

Speak in a summer tone
Pause in the after glow
Tenderly whisper my name
Tell me once again why I am your bride
So I can fly
So I can fly

Pause in your busy day
Look extra long my way
Wink at me across the room
Kiss me longer
Touch my arm when I am by your side
So I can fly
So I can fly

Oh how the little things
Strengthen my tiny wings
Help me to take on the world
When you love me there's nothing I wouldn't try
I might even fly
I might even fly
I might even fly

For more great music of the day, see Elsa's post here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

To my best friend and partner of more than 30 years.  May we dance in the minefields for years to come...

HT: Natalie

"...none but Zion's children know."

This morning in church, we heard an excellent exposition of Psalm 48, and spent time together pondering the gift of God to us in His body, the church, and the everlasting nature of that relationship.  It was a beautiful, significnt thing to contemplate!

One of the mental rabbit-trails this took me down was to remember that my mother's family descends from French Huguenots: French protestants who followed the teachings of Jean Calvin.  In following after that great Reformed tradition, I imagine those ancient grandfathers and grandmothers praying for those who would come after them.  I can hear their prayers for preserving in the family a remnant of those who would seek after Christ and follow Him alone.  And I can imagine that I, myself, am a partial answer to their prayers. And in turn, that thought leads me to pray for those generations coming after me- my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and those stretching on as long as the Lord tarries.  I pray that God would call this family faithful, by His gift of grace to us.  May there always be a remnant to follow Him from among this family!

And that leads me to think (in the opposite direction) of that great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us in this race of faith.  God not only provides a straight, smooth path for our feet, but provides generations of examples in the past to show us how it's done.  His church is truly a thing against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. John Newton wrote about it beautifully in this selection from the Olney Hymns, which we enjoyed singing together this morning.  May we, indeed, Gentle Readers, be raised by His love, over self, to reign with Him.

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose Word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for His own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
Thou may’st smile at all thy foes.

See! the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst t’assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the Giver,
Never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hovering,
See the cloud and fire appear!
For a glory and a cov’ring
Showing that the Lord is near.
Thus deriving from our banner
Light by night and shade by day;
Safe they feed upon the manna
Which He gives them when they pray.

Blest inhabitants of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to God.
’Tis His love His people raises,
Over self to reign as kings,
And as priests, His solemn praises
Each for a thank offering brings.

Savior, if of Zion’s city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy Name.
Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion’s children know.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Happy Birthday, Nikki!

Happy birthday to our sweet daughter-in-love, Nikki!  Nik- you have brought such completion and fullness to our family.  Thank you for your love and vivacity, your caring heart and your sense of humor.  Happy birthday! We love you!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Veritas Press Scholars Academy

Registration opens today over at Veritas Press Scholars Academy, where I am a faculty member.  If you have any students in grades 8 and up who need a good composition class, I would be pleased to have them in one of my two composition classes at VPSA, or in one of the sections taught by my friend and colleague, Cindy Marsch. We have designed the course ( Composition 2) together, and I think it has excellent content for your would-be writers, or any students who need to prepare for writing tasks in high school, college, or beyond.

I have been very impressed with many of the faculty members at VPSA.  If you have an artistically-inclined student, I would not hesitate to place them under the tutelage of  Ken Spirduso: he has an amazing way of looking at and thinking about art!  And there are many other excellent choices listed at the link above.

VPSA is now an accredited secondary school, with about 50 faculty members.  Check it out!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Little is much...

This year, in my various teaching duties, I have once again been amazed at the truth of the maxim that little is much, or less is more.

It is the little things, done faithfully over time, that reap the greatest benefits.  Whether it is a discussion of how to picture the form of an essay, or a narrative retelling of historical events, or forming excellent thesis statements, it is those little, plain things that seem to add up to an education.  It's not the fancy, glitzy computer programs, nor the colorful texts.  It's the little things, done faithfully.  If I could just remember that, I would be less harried in my teaching. Then teaching could truly be an act of leisure for me.  Ah, what a perfect world that would be!