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The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come… ~ Song of Solomon 2:12
It was so beautiful yesterday morning, I had to capture the scene. The birds made up a joyful chorus as the sun hit the flowering trees in our yard. I took a similar photo last year, but it was only 6:30 in the morning that time. Taking the photo a bit later in the morning made the trees even lovelier.
I remember hearing a late middle-aged pastor at a church introduce his “smoking hot wife.” Exact words. He leaned into the microphone and sort of leered in a pastorly kind of way at his wife in the audience. The “ick” factor was high. So high that it was difficult to take the man seriously. As of late, references to “smokin’ hot” wives from hip pastors are essential ministry talk. They may even practice saying it in seminary homiletics classes now.
What if God gives you a wife with a debilitating illness? Still proud of her? What if there’s an accident and she no longer has a Sports Illustrated-worthy body? Still love her? When a husband praises his wife, it better be for something that lasts, because I’m here to tell you, sir, that your” smokin’ hot” wife will soon go the way of all flesh, just like you. Character lasts a long time after looks are long gone.
The worldly view on sexuality long ago invaded the church. Pastors like Mark Driscoll even go so far as to suggest that if a woman “lets herself go”, a vague term that could mean anything from weight gain to eschewing hair extensions and professional spray tans, she may be pushing her husband into straying into an affair with a more attractive model. It is implied, not always said outright. In the world of the sex-obsessed, hipster “pastors”, you’d better be and stay “hot”, lady, or you can thank yourself when your marriage goes south. And I mean “smokin’ hot”, not just “hot.”
This piece from Christianity Today proves I am not alone in noticing this ugly trend (among the countless other such trends in American circus churches.) The author is sick of hearing about “smokin’ hot wives” from the pulpit. Disgust is in order for these men, with the label “pastor” or otherwise, who are blinded by our sex-addled culture into viewing women as nothing but sex objects, and yet claim biblical precedence for their views. I also feel sorry for their wives who have to hear themselves held up as “smokin’ hot”, long after age has had its way. (And it always does, Botox or not!)
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. ~ Proverbs 31:30
Will had a great time with Dr. John Schwandt and Jeremy Wance at the American Organ Institute at the University of Oklahoma School of Music. They have one of the most exciting and growing organ programs in the country. In addition to teaching students to play the organ, they also teach the construction of organs and have their own lab building where students get hand’s on experience. There is a whole business world that revolves around the repair, restoration, and building of pipe organs all over the country. (Coincidentally, one of them is called the Schlueter Pipe Organ Company!)
Will was blessed to get a lesson with Dr. Schwant who took him through some Bach and Langlais. Will is preparing for his May 15 concert.
Poetry is out of fashion these days. Nobody has time to muse about the feel of the wind on their face or write rhapsodic rhymes about a daffodil swaying in the tender spring air. Nonetheless, April is National Poetry Month.
I am glad to say that all poetry lovers have not yet departed this mortal coil. I have an Oxford Book of English Verse on my shelf as well as several other anthologies. It seems to me that we ought to still make room for poetic thoughts even in the age of Digital Doom.
There used to be an consensus among educators that every American student should know certain poems. Needless to say, those days are gone. Most of the Western canon of literature written by dead white guys has been jettisoned in favor of “literature” from places like the Coalition to Stop Bullying and Sexting in Schools. Such is the sad state of our culture. But even so, I read A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson to Emmy. Someone has to keep the candle lit for beautiful verse.
I personally still appreciate poetry, at least the kind that is comprehensible. Like this one, for example, by Longfellow, which actually describes the beauty of words fitly spoken on a rainy evening.
The Day is Done
The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of night
As a feather wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist:
A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of the day.
Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of time.
For, like the strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavor;
And tonight I long for rest.
Read from the humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;
Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
Then read the treasured volume
The poem of my choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.
I also like this poem by William Butler Yeats.
WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
And there’s this one.
Pictures Of Memory
by Alice Cary
Among the beautiful pictures
That hang on Memory’s wall,
Is one of a dim old forest,
That seemeth best of all:
Not for its gnarled oaks olden,
Dark with the mistletoe;
Not for the violets golden
That sprinkle the vale below;
Not for the milk-white lilies
That lean from the fragrant hedge,
Coqueting all day with the sunbeams,
And stealing their shining edge;
Not for the vines on the upland
Where the bright red berries be,
Nor the pinks, nor the pale, sweet cowslip,
It seemeth the best to me.
I once had a little brother,
With eyes that were dark and deep –
In the lap of that old dim forest
He lieth in peace asleep:
Light as the down of the thistle,
Free as the winds that blow,
We roved there the beautiful summers,
The summers of long ago;
But his feet on the hills grew weary,
And, one of the autumn eves,
I made for my little brother
A bed of the yellow leaves.
Sweetly his pale arms folded
My neck in a meek embrace,
As the light of immortal beauty
Silently covered his face:
And when the arrows of sunset
Lodged in the tree-tops bright,
He fell, in his saint-like beauty,
Asleep by the gates of light.
Therefore, of all the pictures
That hang on Memory’s wall,
The one of the old dim forest
Seemeth the best of all.
I also like this one by Robert Frost.
A Prayer in Spring
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.
Someone once gave me a small booklet of some of the most popular poems. I page through it every once in a while. It was a lovely gift that I have treasured through the years and have shared with my children. In the ignorance and illiteracy of our present age, there is something wonderful about memorizing some of these beautiful poems that men and women labored over and gave to us. It’s almost a revolutionary thing to do, and you will find lines from poems striking you when you least expect it, a very satisfying thing.
So read a poem this month, or better yet, buy a small anthology of poems and give it to somebody. Dare them to read a few. Pass on the beauty.
Now let the vault of Heav’n resound
In praise of love that doth abound,
“Christ hath triumphed, alleluia!”
Sing, choirs of angels, loud and clear,
Repeat their song of glory here,
“Christ hath triumphed, Christ hath triumphed!”
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Eternal is the gift He brings,
Wherefore our heart with rapture sings,
“Christ hath triumphed, Jesus liveth!”
Now doth He come and give us life,
Now doth His presence still all strife
Through His triumph; Jesus reigneth!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
O fill us, Lord, with dauntless love;
Set heart and will on things above
That we conquer through Thy triumph,
Grant grace sufficient for life’s day
That by our life we ever say,
“Christ hath triumphed, and He liveth!”
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Adoring praises now we bring
And with the heavenly blessèd sing,
“Christ hath triumphed, Alleluia!”
Be to the Father, and our Lord,
To Spirit blest, most holy God,
Thine the glory, never ending!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!
This is our Passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!
Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy.”
The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.
Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
Now is the Victor’s triumph won;
Now be the song of praise begun.
The American Guild of Organists held their regional competition in Milwaukee at St. Paul’s Church last Saturday. Will worked hard for months and ended up learning much and earning a $100 prize. Playing alongside students from Eastman School of Music and Lawrence University was not a small thing for a junior in high school, but he had worked hard and played his best, he felt.
Will got to talk with Dr. John Behnke of Concordia University Mequon who was one of the judges, and who took time to encourage Will’s musical work. It was a wonderful day. You can read more and see the contestants’ photos by scrolling down a bit on the AGO website.
I have given this post a very specific title for purposes of searches online. My name has been smeared beyond repair on the Internet, but I am posting this after having hundreds of searches in the last 2 years appear on my blog dashboard regarding my sudden disappearance from Crosstalk and departure from VCY America in 2011.
A malicious and dishonest family member deliberately floated the rumor (several lying rumors actually) that I am now divorced and that suggested search term appears when my name is put into google.
For the record, I will have been married 18 years in June to Tom, the greatest gift from God I could have received. He is the love of my life. It is an outright lie.
For the record, Tom and I left VCY America in May of 2011 after my prayerful attempt to honestly address some long standing, extended family and employee concerns was met with open hostility on March 5, 2011. Unable to function with integrity in our jobs in the ensuing fallout, we had to walk away from our livelihoods – jobs we had done for a combined 43 years, and for me, a lifetime at VCY America. Despite repeated attempts to get help from the board, we were treated as less than human and discarded.
There is an obscene, fictional account online of my departure on a hate blog that has linked here to my own blog so I see the incoming hits from those doing searches. We have strong reason to believe that the sick individual writing the lies online was encouraged by the same hostile family member whose well concealed malice has done a great deal of harm.
I worked hard for 2 decades to bring essential information to Christians at a time of enormous changes within evangelicalism. Despite a near constant stream of incoming personal attacks that result when you address these spiritually rooted issues, the 23 years of work that I did speaks for itself, and I feel no need to defend the quality or motivation involved.
A short time ago, I removed the posts here at the Hope Blog that detailed the harm done to us in the past 2 years by VCY America. They were pulled, not because anything had changed, and not because any of it is OK. It’s not OK. But we are making every effort to accept the losses and move on, and removing the record of wrongs was a step I took for me. God has the only record book that matters.
So if you something bizarre online, or notice google bombs (dishonest false search terms repeatedly put into google for purposes of slander) with my name attached, please just contact me if it worries you. I’m always here to answer questions if someone feels they need to know the facts about something. It’s interesting that despite the many times I have seen my name with ugly search terms next to it on my WordPress dashboard, I have yet to hear personally from more than a handful. I would think that when reputations are at stake, going to the source would be the Christian thing to do.
Love in a home isn’t about achieving perfection. In a home where there is true love, there is humility enough to understand that all of us have faults. The difference is that you love anyway. Our children will never leave home amazed by our perfections. They see our faults and we see theirs. But hopefully, they will remember forgiveness and what that looked like. That is the most important message they can take away from us. Forgiveness. Without it, the world is a very dark place.
With our lives we bless or curse others. We leave those around us and those who come after us – our children – with a curse or blessing on their lives.
The pastor and elders laid hands on our little Emily this past summer and prayed a Seven-Fold Blessing on her.
A friend posted this Scriptural blessing on Facebook today. I wanted to share it with all of you who read the Hope Blog.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’
Numbers 6: 24-26
Here is a blessing from the New Testament.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. ~ Romans 15:13
May all of you have a blessed week!
Here is the blessing from Numbers put to music by John Rutter.