Highlight of the hymn sing-
when someone else requested Wonderful Grace of Jesus right when I was thinking about it but didn't want to speak up. The request was made almost apologetically, acknowledging that is a heckuva a lot of notes for the piano accompanist to play.
But the refrain, oh how I love singing that refrain!
(and oh how I smiled at the looks exchanged between those two old and most dear friends, the looks that only the most old and dear of friends can exchange. Isn't that kind of history a gift, a wonderful grace for certain.)
Ain't that the truth?
I can barely begin to describe how thankful I am for my friends,
near and far,
for sweet fellowship,
for timely notes,
for encouragement and exhortation,
for trusted confidences,
for time over early morning coffee and mid-afternoon tea,
for the prayer of like-minded sisters...,
all one of the sweetest joys of life,
I have just a couple of things that were my grandparents, and I treasure them. The desk, where I sit almost every morning and read and study and pray, that was my grandma's. I don't remember not knowing that desk. It was my favorite place in her house when I was growing up. I hid Bic felt tip pens and gumball machine treats in the secret pull-out boxes. I wrote notes on my grandma's bridge pads. The doors of the bookshelves on the desk still rattle every morning when I really get to scribbling in my notebook, a sound that transports me to the same rattle when my sister and I would run across the living room or slam the front screen door too hard.
I also have one painting that came from my grandparents. Today it hangs in my bedroom. I don't remember it from childhood at all. It surfaced as an dusty unframed canvas discovered after my grandpa died. I was the only one interested in keeping it, so by default, it came to my house. The artist signed his name down in the right hand corner, Bambrook.
Walter Bambrook was a friend of my grandparents. I think my grandpa met him when they both set type at the Albuquerque Journal in the mid-1900's. My grandparents had other paintings of Mr. Bambrook in the house.We would see Mr. Bambrook at the New Mexico State Fair Fine Arts Gallery. He would take us over to his paintings on display and show us how he hid animals in the aspen scenes. I had no idea that he was a fine artist- I only knew that he painted the landscapes that were my backyard, the Sandia mountains, the adobes, the changing fall colors.
I'm guessing that this painting was from rather early in Walter Bambrook's career, and not nearly as valuable or appreciated as his later works. That does not diminish its worth in my eyes one bit.
Now doesn't THAT figure?
In that brief time when the sun, in all of its shining splendor, came out on the Kitsap Peninsula, when the white-capped Olympic Mountains peaked proudly in the distance, when the water glistened in the bright of the afternoon light, that was the time when I didn't have my camera with me.
So I snapped the trees with my phone as we drove by...
But, even still, what a glorious day!
We spent the weekend at Liberty Bay Presbyterian Church, with that body of believers so dear to my heart, those folks that kept me afloat during those years my husband was underwater (literally), and the same folks that so generously and faithfully support the ministry at the US/Mexico border now.
They asked us to share about the work down here, and they asked us the prayers of our heart. They listened earnestly and prayed fervently and encouraged us greatly. It blessed us to see old friends and it blessed us to meet new ones, too. Not to mention, they showed us generous and gracious hospitality and fed us well besides!
In addition, we had the opportunity to spend a few hours with other dear friends, sharing our stories and catching up on a few of theirs, seamlessly taking up where we last left off. Certainly, isn't one of the sweetest times this side of heaven just sitting and spending time and enjoying fellowship with one another? Indeed, I leave refreshed, and still, longing for that time when there will be no more goodbyes.
A big thanks to all of our friends on the Kitsap Peninsula. You all are precious to us!
We flew up to the Pacific Northwest, and changed planes in Las Vegas. I thought the slot machine was appropriately named. I always feel like I am in the Twilight Zone when I spend time in Las Vegas- it is so different than my everyday world. This time was no different.
It is silly, I know, because I've been keeping the peat damp and watching the stem grow and lengthen and keeping the lanky spine upright with twine, but still, I am joyfully surprised to come down and find my amaryllis opened to bloom this morning.
"I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing." Ezekiel 24:26 (ESV) It seems like it has been raining for a week. Just writing that sort of makes me want to snort; what a lame and completely non-noteworthy statement. We have lived in places where it rains for days and weeks and even months at a time, and I have forgotten how to do that gracefully, I think. I splash in puddles one day and am ready for sunshine to return by the next. This morning, it was raining and pouring and it seemed unusually cruel to make my son ride his bike to classes. I had just dropped him off and stopped at the light when, in an instant, the clouds broke and sunlight busted through. Hope is blue sky peeking through after days of rain. Showers of blessing!
"What a heart knows by heart is what a heart really knows."
Oh the things that my mind remembers, that my heart knows.
I can turn on the "oldies" radio (how does '80's music become "oldies"?) and Name That Tune and sing right along.
I know dialogue of random movies and musicals.
I remember conversations and hurtful words of the past long beyond wanting to and I am reminded at moments when I least expect to be.
But this is what I want to really know- His word.
So I'm starting on The Romans Project, memorizing Romans 1, 8, and 12 in the year ahead, a couple verses a week, 87 in all.
Truthfully, I am not sure I can.
I'm going to try anyway.
(confession- I do love that I get a little moleskine notebook besides...)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut squash in half lenghtwise; discard seeds and membrane. Place squash halves, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until very soft, about 45 minutes- 1 hour. Scoop the pulp from the peel, and reserve.
Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, and salt. Cook and stir until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes.
Pour the chicken broth into the pot, and bring to a boil. Stir in the apples and squash, and simmer until the apples are very soft, about 30 minutes.
(at this point the recipe tells you to pour the soup by batches into a blender, and puree until smooth. But I don't have a blender. So I smashed the soup and chunky pieces with a potato masher, and then put in my hand mixer (as in hand-cranked old fashioned mixer) and finished the job a bit more.)
Add can of coconut milk and reheat to serve.
(note- the original recipe called for firm ripe Bartlett pears and a 1/2 cup half and half)
O Lord, Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour, that I may not be one moment apart from thee, but may rely on thy Spirit to supply every thought, speak in every word, direct every step, prosper every work, build up every mote of faith, and give me a desire to show forth thy praise, testify thy love, advance thy kingdom I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbour, thee, O Son, at my helm, thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails. Guide me to heaven with my loins girt, my lamps burning, my ear open to thy calls, my heart full of love, my soul free. Give me thy grace to sanctify me, thy comforts to cheer, thy wisdom to teach, thy right hand to guide, thy counsel to instruct, thy law to judge, thy presence to stabilize. May thy fear be my awe, thy triumphs my joy.
Perhaps one of my most continual pleas in prayer is "more of you, less of me, O Lord." This old Puritan New Year's prayer summarizes that petition so well. I think of three words to strive towards in the year ahead- obedient, content and expectant. Obedient to "rely on thy Spirit," how could I better hear that still small voice of the Comforter, and respond well? Content with His grace and steadfast love, will I put aside the complaints and grumbles that so quickly distract? Expectant of the good work He has yet to bring to completion, might I ever look forward in anticipation and hope?
The truth is, however, I can't do any of that on my own. I can never muster up the cheer, the satisfaction, the optimism, relying on myself. The prophecy from Isaiah, echoed in Luke 3, reminds me all that Christ fulfills, every valley filled, every mountain and hill made low, the crooked becomes straight, the rough places become level, "and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." He is my hope and He is my certainty.
The references to the sea in the ancient New Year's prayer reminds me of a modern song, Pilot Me, a similar request and appeal,
I will arise and follow you over Savior please, pilot me Over the waves and through every sorrow Savior please, pilot me When I have no more strength left to follow Fall on my knees, pilot me May your sun rise and lead me on Over the sea’s, savior pilot me O’ Lord
I found this on our chalkboard this morning. And I smiled.
But even more, it prompted me to think of Paul, who in Ephesians reminds us of the spiritual identity of those trusting in Christ.
The faithful in Christ Jesus are:
blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3),
chosen in Him (1:4),
holy and blameless before Him (1:4),
adopted as sons (1:5),
lavished with the riches of His grace (1:7-8),
sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13),
alive in Christ (2:5),
saved by grace (2:5),
His workmanship (2:10),
reconciled to God (2:16)...
Indeed, He IS able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think (3:20)! To Him be the glory.
On the first morning of the new year we needed milk so I went to the grocery store, walked through puddles in the parking lot in my flipflops, and had a conversation in Spanish with a man in the produce aisle about Michigan. A good start, I'd say.