Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas is approaching and like so many, I'm obsessing over the gift-giving aspect. Would she like this or that, or even that? We all want to please our freinds and our motivation to find that perfect something is the hope of beholding their delight on opening the gifts Christmas morning.

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 is a Man Educated?

"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

"I am in the mood for a good story; of course, I am always in the mood for a good story," a sentiment voiced by Winston Churchill and echoed by many others, including one Miss Skinner at her blog, Musings of a Lady.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperence, self-control, diligence, strength of will, content, and a hundred other virtues which the idle never know."

~Charles Kingsley

Friday, October 14, 2005

I don't understand the mechanics of faith or why the exercise of it is pleasing to God. Is being out on a limb ever comfortable? Yet I rest there, assured that underneath are the everlasting arms. If I fall when following His voice, He will bear me up. Abraham's faith and active obedience to God were counted for righteousness. He believed God. Would I leave my home and family because God promised to show me favor in another land? Would I believe it if He promised my descendants would outnumber the stars even though I were old and childless? God has spoken smaller promises to my heart, and for fear or doubt, I haven't always followed Him. But with His help, I will in this exercize of faith; I will trust Him and I will follow. "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

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

"I'll quite procrastinating...tomorrow." That seems to be my modus operandi. Today, when I was tempted to put something off, I plunged straight into it. This afternoon, I ran two packages to the post office on my break. I answered several emails within hours of their receipt. I'm posting to my blog after several months of silence. I waste so much energy, never mind time, in putting off till tomorrow what I can very well do today. Today is the day...Carpe diem!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A particularly poignant quote from Lloyd Douglas' The Robe:
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

"I want the company of the godly men and women in the land; they are the true nobility," (Psalm 16:3, TLB).

Friday, May 13, 2005

There are chapters in my life that I would just as soon skip over, as I do when a novel I'm reading grows tedious. But in life, there is no way to page through the tedious parts. And so we live them, one daypage at a time.

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

"They say there is a young lady in New Haven who is beloved by that Great Being who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being in some way or other invisibly comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything except to meditate on him. That she expects after a while to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven, being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance from him always. There she is to dwell with him, and to be ravished with his love and delight forever."

~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

It isn't that I intend to plagiarize others' genius. I have revelations of my own, but little time to convert them to intelligible paragraphs. Thus, I resort to cataloguing the writings of more gifted individuals. These are the words that inspire, challenge, and provide fodder for my intellectual fires...
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

My sister clipped this quote from Family Circle and had tacked it to her bulletin board. I think Ms. Hepburn's words are in danger of becoming cliches, but even so, they are true. It is interesting: when I read them through the first time, their deeper meaning escaped me. Now, as I type them, I hear them resonate inside me.

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

Further thoughts on the the topic of inner beauty:
Beauty and the Beastly Heart

(Where have I been all my life without Boundless? This is good stuff!)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Last Friday was interminable. Even though I wasn't physically chained to my desk, I felt that way, and all I could think of was escaping! Yesterday, though spent in my same cell on the third floor of the old courthouse, was far more pleasant. For one, I was learning a new procedure and had low expectations for myself. When I have learned it, then will come the pressure to perform my task quickly and efficiently; for now, learning is my only job.

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 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.

A Pair of Queens: The Dual Nature of Queen Esther

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

"Be like the bird
That, pausing in her flight
Awhile on boughs too slight,
Feels them give way
Beneath her and yet sings,
Knowing that she hath wings."

Victor Hugo

Saturday, January 22, 2005

"Beware of the barrenness of a busy life." Socrates
I didn't want to do it, but I have, and it is best this way: to have a real job. Socrates reminds me not to let busy-ness lead to barrenness, something I tend to forget with pending deadlines and no time to meet them. Since I started my 8-5 schedule at the insurance company Tuesday, I've striven to start the day with prayer and meditation on scripture. It provides a quiet center for the day.
After 8 hours of staring at the computer screen, though, I'm hardly motivated to work at home. My livelihood no longer at stake, I can work here simply for love.
One of my favorite passages from Kahlil Gilbran's The Prophet reads:
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.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The problem is this: I don't want to grow up if it means being independent and earning a living at a conventional job. I thought becoming a woman was about being a domestic goddess; for years I have looked forward making home a sanctuary for my husband and family. When I finished high school, I started a business that would provide a supplementary income for things like new curtains or a gallon of paint to freshen up the kitchen. Never was it my intention to actually support myself by the work of my hands!
I'm angry that, number one, a woman's place in the home is no longer heralded important as it was in Victorian days. Two, that in an effort to liberate themselves from the tyranny of man, women have lost the respect and the freedom they once enjoyed as ladies. And three, that no man has crowned me Queen of his realm called Home.
So what am I going to do? If I must support myself, I'd at least like to do something I enjoy. And what do I enjoy? What are my talents? What do others perceive as my gifts? What do I need to do to invest these talents for a profit? Do I keep plugging away at self-education while expanding my business on a shoestring? Or should I put my business on hold while I finish a four-year degree in business or communications? When am I qualified to make my dreams come true?
Can't I live the life I have imagined without altering my dream?
"Good habits are not made on birthdays, nor Christian character at the new year. The workshop of character is everyday life. The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or won."
Maltbie D. Babcock

Monday, January 03, 2005

"If youth is the season of hope, it is often so only in the sense that our elders are hopeful about us; for no age is so apt as youth to think its emotions, partings, and resolves are the last of their kind."
George Eliot, Middlemarch