Thursday, December 15, 2005
Too, I've been looking closer at God's gifts. "Every good and perfect gift is from above..." I haven't always seen His gifts to me as good and perfect. I've mistrusted and despised the gifts, even tried to shove some back at Him, thinking I wouldn't have time to enjoy them. But He has been a true friend, still aiming to please, hoping to kindle delight in my eyes.
I don't deserve them, but He's given me some good and perfect gifts. May I delight!
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
"When he can look out upon the universe, now lucid and lovely, now dark and terrible, with a sense of his own littleness in the great scheme of things, and yet have faith and courage. When he knows how to make friends and keep them, and above all, when he can keep friends with himself.
"When he can be happy alone and high-minded amid the drudgeries of life. When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something besides mud, and into the face of the most forlorn mortal and see something divine.
"When he know how to live, how to love, how to hope, how to pray--is glad to live...and has in his heart a bit of song."
Joseph Fort Newton (a distant relation?)
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Friday, October 14, 2005
The God Who Sees
Sometimes we have to jump when we can’t see what we’re jumping into.
By Steve Ares
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Emily Dickinson, American Poet (1830-1886)
Monday, September 19, 2005
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Marcellus had been doing an unusual amount of new thinking, these past few days, on the subject of property. According to Justus, Jesus had much to say about a man's responsibility as a possessor of material things. Hoarded things might easily become a menace; a mere fire-and-theft risk; a breeding ground for destructive insects; a source of worry. Men would have plenty of anxieties, but there was no sense in accumulating worries over things! That kind of worry destroyed your character. Even an unused coat, hanging in your closet; it wasn't merely a useless thing that did nobody any good; it was an active agent of destruction in your life. And your life must be saved, at all costs. What would it advantage a man-Jesus had demanded- if he were to gain the whole world- and lose his own life?
Monday, June 06, 2005
Friday, May 13, 2005
3 1/2 weeks ago, early on the morning of April 24, a new chapter began for us. I was awakened by an unfamiliar crackling sound. When I wandered out of my bedroom, my sleep-swollen eyes were accosted by a wall of fire outside the sewing room window. "Oh God! The Ortiz's house is on fire!" My wail raised the slumbering Amy and Rachel. Rachel: "We have to see if everybody got out. We have to go help them!" Amy: "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!" I called Mom who was at work, and then 911. We pulled on some clothes and ran out of the house and into the cold night. In the light of fire, I could see the Ortizes huddled on the side of the street, all six of them. "Is everybody okay?" I asked. "Yes." Just minutes after our exit, flames lept the 10 feet between the two houses and our house caught fire. Shuddering, from cold and from the horror, I screamed.
"The puppies!" The dachshunds, Zeidel & Joey were shut in on the south side of the yard, in the area between the two burning houses. When one of our neighbors realized this, he tore off to rescue them. In his haste, he tore down the little lattice gate we'd had constructed to keep them confined to their run because he could not tell how it fastened. The dogs fled into the night. Through the french doors in the back of the house, our neighbor could see our cat Anna, totally fritzed. He took a flower pot and smashed a pane of glass so she could escape the inferno. He returned, brandishing a wounded arm where Anna had scratched him.
In a nightmare, I would have woken up at the point our house caught fire, but when the fire had been contained an hour later and we went home with Bro. Moss, the nightmare was still real. We sat in the Moss' living room as the sun rose and recalled the morning's events over tea.
"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not," (Lamentations 3:22).
Thursday, March 10, 2005
~Jonathan Edwards, a young student at Yale in 1723 on first hearing of Sarah Pierrepont, the young woman who became his bride four years later at age 17
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Culture takes leisure, elegance, wide margins of time, a pocketbook; drudgery means limitations, coarseness, crowded hours, chronic worry, old clothes, black hands, headaches. Our real and our ideal are not twins. Never were! I want the books, but the clothes basket wants me. I love nature and figures are my fate. My taste is books and I farm. My taste is art and I correct exercises. My taste is science and I measure tape.
Can it be that this drudgery, not to be escaped, gives "culture"? Yes, culture of the prime elements of life, of the very fundamentals of all fine manhood and fine womanhood, the fundamentals that underlie all fullness and without which no other culture worth the winning is even possible. Power of attention, power of industry, promptitude in beginnning work, method and accuracy and dispatch in doing it, perseverance, courage before difficulties, cheer, self-control and self-denial--they are worth more than Latin and Greek and French and German and music and art and painting and wax flowers and travels in Europe added together. The latter are the decorations of a man's life, those first things are the indispensables. They make one's sitfast strength and one's active momentum--they are the solid substance of one's self.
Father and mother and the ancestors before them have done much to bequeath those mental qualities to us, but that which scrubs them into us, the clinch which makes them actually ours and keeps them ours, and adds to them as the years go by--that depends on our own plod in the rut, our drill of habit; in a word, our "drudgery." It is because we have to go and go morning after morning, through rain, through shine, through toothach, headache, heartache to the appointed spot and do the appointed work, no matter what our work may be, because of the rut, plod, grind, humdrum in the the work, that we get our foundations.
Drudgery is the gray angel of success, for drudgery is the doing of one thing long after it ceases to be amusing, and it is "this one thing I do" (Phil 3:13) that gathers me together from my chaos, that concentrates me from possibilities to powers and turns powers into achievements. The aim in life is what the backbone is in the body, if we have no aim we have no meaning. Lose us and the earth has lost nothing, no niche is empty, no force has ceased to play, for we have no aim and therefore we are still--nobody. Our bodies are known and answer in this world to such or such a name, but , as to our inner selves, with real and awful meaning our walking bodies might be labeled, "An unknown man sleeps here"!
But we can be artists also in our daily task--artists not artisans. The artist is he who strives to perfect his work, the artisan strives to get through it. If I cannot realize my ideal I can at least idealize my real. How? By trying to be perfect in it. If I am but a raindrop in a shower, I will be at least a perfect drop. If but a leaf in a whole June, I will be a perfect leaf.
This is the beginning of all Gospels, that the kingdom of heaven is at hand just where we are.
--Author Unknown; quoted in A Beautiful Possibility, by Edith F. Black, reprinted from Foundation Truth magazine
Friday, February 18, 2005
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you'll never walk alone.
The tender loving care of human beings will never become obsolete.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed and redeemed and redeemed.
Never throw out anybody.
And remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
Your "good old days" are still ahead of you.
May you have many of them.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Saturday, February 05, 2005
One lady in our ward, that is, our department, stopped at my cell, ahem...desk and asked if she could tell me something. I said she could and to my astonishment, she told me I had a regal aura about me, like I was royalty. I nearly choked. I was flabbergasted. "Okay..." grinning like a Cheshire. "Thank you." All day, her words lingered in my ears. Sometimes chiding, sometimes inspiring. For I am of royal descent. More than a descendant of the royal Scots, I am a daughter of a King. Do I remember that when I am among commoners? Many times, no. And yet, people see that "regal aura" about me. It makes me want to walk worthy of my calling.
Do I spend as much time cultivating inner beauty as I do attending to daily grooming of my person? Sadly, no. I am a minimalist when it comes to both. "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman that fears the Lord: she shall be praised." If I am beautiful in looks, what good is it if my spirit stinks as mine does, much of the time? I need to cultivate a quiet spirit and learn more of my Father's ways. Too, what good is a beautiful spirit if hygiene is neglected? Along with my regime for inner-beauty, I need to improve my appearance with exercise and grooming. (I'm sure my chic friend A. would agree!)
Just now, I did a Google search to see what would come up on cultivating inner beauty. When I think of biblical beauty queens, my mind immediately turns to Esther. The King James version and every other translation of the Bible I've read speaks of Esther as a beauty, so this article on BeingJewish.com suggesting she might have been a plain-looking girl surprised me. (Needless to say, I do not agree this article entirely, though I thought it posed some interesting possibilities.) "Hadassah" (Esther's Hebrew name) is from the word "hadas", or myrtle. Myrtle is a humble plant, but when crushed it gives a beautiful fragrance.
Just as the hadas must be bruised and crushed in order to smell its sweetest, so often must each of us undergo suffering in order to fully develop. Our sweet smell is inherent, but it is not always manifest until brought forth through difficult times.
And the two names of Queen Esther work hand in hand in this message: Hashem's salvation lies waiting for us in secret. Somewhere, whatever trouble we may be going through, for whatever reason we may need to be "bruised and crushed," like the hadas, there is always an ester, a hidden salvation waiting for us, that Hashem has prepared for us long before the troubles began.
I feel like Esther, a captive in a strange land. I feel bruised and crushed by a society that couldn't seem to care less about my God. But I am here, and this, whether I like it or not, is my reality. What will be the "hidden salvation" the Lord brings to His people through my life?
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Saturday, January 22, 2005
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,And all work is empty save when there is love;And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.And what is it to work with love?It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.Work is love made visible.And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger.And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.