Never Miss a Sunrise

Emily came running into my bedroom one morning yelling, “Mama, quick, come look!” She was so intense she scared me. I thought something was wrong outside.  She lifted my window shade and pointed. “Look at that!”

The rising sun had turned the eastern sky the most unbelievable color of peach against the faint blue. “Isn’t it GORGEOUS?” she cried.

I would have missed it entirely. How many times has that child pulled me over to the window to see the moon shining down on us in all its different phases, something I would have never noticed either. Thank God above for children who never miss a sunrise or a sunset and whose sense of wonder is still intact.

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. ~ George Eliot





Last of the Summer Beauty

My friend Kim lives in Ottawa, Canada. She is wonderful with her garden. This photo is of her last rose of summer, and I wanted to share it in all its beauty. (This pink is my favorite color ever.)

She wrote:

It is a David Austin rose called ‘Heritage.’ I planted it in honor of my grandma, whose birthday was the first day of summer, and I always gave her a bouquet of roses on her birthday from my mom’s gardens. This rose is absolutely gorgeous, it opens up as a fragile-looking cup of shells…If it’s hardy here, you can grow it in Wisconsin, so see if you can find the plant someday! It is the perfect pale, peachy pink. I always think of the poem at this time of year. Also, that first stanza always makes me think of elderly women.


‘Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

—Thomas Moore

(Full poem here.)



The Faith of a Child

emmyrose“Let’s pray, Mama.”

It is a precious thing to see the spiritual life of a young child develop. As I watch our youngest grow in body and mind, I’m reminded again of the sacred trust we have as parents to guide our children’s souls.

Emily has learned to pray. She likes to pray and is very quick to remind me to do so when I set her meals in front of her.

Her favorite is, “O give thanks to the Lord for He is good. For His mercy endures forEVER! AMEN!”

I was suffering from one of my bad headaches the other day and she laid a soft hand of concern on mine. “Would you like me to pray for you, Mama?”

And she did. She knows that when she is sick, I hold her face in my hands and ask for God’s help. Now she does it for others.

The smallest thing will cause her conversation to move God-ward. The evening of Valentine’s Day, she found me in my reading chair, fresh tears on her cheeks.

pinkroses“Mama, I wanted to hold a flower, but Bubba (Will) said no, I can’t touch them.”

Will hadn’t meant any harm, but he thought I wouldn’t want her touching one of the roses from my Valentine’s bouquet.

So I let her have one of the velvety pink beauties to admire.

She felt the petals, rubbed them on her cheek, commenting on how “lovely” it felt. (I told her that is what her little ears felt like when she was brand new!) She sniffed the flower, then had me sniff it. She asked about the leaves and the little veins in the leaves. She noticed the color of the stem and asked what it was called. A leaf fell off the rose and she asked if she could glue it on some paper.

Then she began asking about the growth of the flower and whether it would still grow. Then she said, “Who made this flower?”

“God made it, Emmy,” I answered, looking into the exquisite center of that pink rose.

“Yes, God made it. God made everything. He made the sun and moon and stars…” Her list of things went on and on.

Then she stopped suddenly and smiled, remembering something I taught her a few months ago.

“We can’t see God, but he can ALWAYS see us.”

In her preschool mind, things were being ordered. An invisible God who has done visible things in His creation.

Mary, Emmy’s sister who is 17, picked up the flower and commented, “I had a question on my test, and it asked how we know there is a God. I wrote that even though we can’t see God, we can see the evidence for His existence everywhere.”

“Amen,” I said.

“AMEN!” shouted little sister.

When children rise up, when they lie down at night, when they eat breakfast, when they admire something in nature, in the van on the way to school, morning and noon and night, we can point our children to God. (Deuteronomy 6)

To put it in Emmy’s phrasing, “O give thanks to the Lord, for his mercy endures forEVER!” AMEN!”

(Note: the rose photos were taken by Mary a couple of years ago. She has a great eye for photography.)

God’s Creation Sings of His Power

I want to thank NASA personally for all it has done to underscore the truth  of the Word of God. Like no other agency or organization, it offers constant photographic proof of the direct hand of God in creation.

Please take just a moment and see planet Earth from 11 billion miles away. That tiny dot is where we all live. Billions of us. NASA’s cameras provide something we arrogant humans desperately need—perspective! These verses came to mind when I saw the photos. King Nebuchadnezzar had spent years living like a wild beast as God’s judgment against him. Then, in Daniel 4:34-35, we see these words recorded:

“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

God’s written revelation to us explains how his creation sings of his power.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

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.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

~ Psalm 19


Spring is Coming, Spring is Coming!

February can be a tease, and the last few days have seen temperatures in the 40’s. For Wisconsin, that’s balmy weather. I’m fostering cheerful thoughts of spring today (even though it may not be here for a while.) The light is coming earlier in the morning, a hopeful sign. Emmy heard the birds singing as we got ready to take Will to school.

I like these quotes.

Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity. –Joseph Addison

Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us. – Charlotte Bronte

These photos of our lilacs by son Samuel a few years ago brought a smile today. I can almost catch the scent…

The North Winds Blow

The wind was blowing the trash cans around in the street when I pulled up to our house after dropping William off at school. There was a bite to the wind when I went to get the cans into the garage. It’s only 39 degrees out (F), but it feels colder with the rain and wind.

There was a wind storm last night that did some damage to counties closer to Lake Michigan. We had gusts up around 50mph here. The wind took trees and limbs down all over Milwaukee County. It’s a good day to be inside. The warmth of the house felt good when we stepped inside.

It’s that time of year when the days are getting short and the fireplace regains its charm. I’ve been eyeing a particular row of books on my shelf that I would like to get through. Deep reading is difficult to do with a toddler, but now that Emily is beginning to occupy herself for longer periods with her toys, it’s getting a little better. I love reading lighter things like Reminisce magazine (my favorite) or Farm and Ranch Living (because I admire the rural life from afar), but in this age of digital noise, sometimes you have to determine to get back to deeper reading.

The Oxford Book of English Verse and its American counterpart are on my list. These poems show that regardless of the era in which we live, the human experience really differs little throughout time. I like this poem by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, 1516-47.

MARTIAL, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:—
The richesse left, not got with pain;
The fruitful ground, the quiet mind;

The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease, the healthful life;
The household of continuance;

The mean diet, no delicate fare;
True wisdom join’d with simpleness;
The night dischargèd of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress.

The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Contented with thine own estate
Ne wish for death, ne fear his might.

That description of a contented life could have come out of the Book of Proverbs in the Bible: a faithful spouse, simplicity of lifestyle (he mentions simple, or “mean”, food), peace with your neighbors, no grudge-holding and the quiet mind that results, prosperity from your own hard work–all the things that give a person a good night sleep. I reacquainted myself with these poems the other night and have many to plow through.

Another series of books deserving attention on my shelf are The Treasury of David commentaries by C.H. Spurgeon. This writing is so deep that a few paragraphs or even one paragraph can be chewed on for a long time. Here is what he writes on verse 2 of Psalm 1.

Here the gracious man is described both negatively (verse 1) and positively (verse 2). He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions.

Note next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood-washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil.

Again it is said, “nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” He finds no rest in the atheist’s scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense of God’s presence to endure to hear His name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein.

The nip in the air reminds me of the fast approaching holidays. I am looking forward to the winter village going up on my table in the dining room. It was a gift last year that we enjoyed all during the Christmas season. This year, however, it isn’t just for Christmas. Tom starts a long-running music job from the first week in November through nearly Christmas, so he’s going to put my village up early while he still has time in the evenings. Otherwise, it might not get up at all. Emmy will enjoy it more this year than last, and she’s old enough to know what “no” means, so hopefully the little figures will be safe from her curious fingers. Note that I said, “hopefully.”

Before we know it, Thanksgiving Day will be here and snow will fly here in the north. This isn’t grand poetry, but my children learned it from a nursery rhyme book when they were little. It makes me think of fast approaching November.

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

He Knows Your Name

God calls the stars by their names, and He knows your name. We are not highly evolved slime, the result of random chance acting on matter. Where would the matter have come from anyway without someone to make it? We have a personal God who has stooped down to reveal Himself to His creation. These Psalms comfort us that while God is a God of holiness and justice, He is also a God of mercy and love. Unlike the capricious and terrifying pagan gods who must be appeased and who leave humans in an endless quest to somehow earn their own salvation, our God has revealed Himself to us in His Word. He tells us who He is and what He requires of us. He reaches down in love, because we cannot earn salvation by our own merit.

Whatever your heartache is today, whatever your need may be, God knows your name. God is near to humble and contrite hearts. He is near to those who seek Him in truth. God’s Word is truth.

He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. The LORD lifts up the meek: he casts the wicked down to the ground. Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God… ~ Psalm 137:3-7

O LORD, our Lord,
         How excellent is Your name in all the earth, 
         Who have set Your glory above the heavens! 

 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
         You have ordained strength, 
         Because of Your enemies, 
         That You may silence the enemy and the avenger. 

 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
         The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
 What is man that You are mindful of him,
         And the son of man that You visit him?
 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
         And You have crowned him with glory and honor. 

 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
         You have put all things under his feet,
 All sheep and oxen—
         Even the beasts of the field,
 The birds of the air,
         And the fish of the sea 
         That pass through the paths of the seas. 

 O LORD, our Lord,
         How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

~ Psalm 8