Frank Boggs & Others

Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.
Others, Lord, yes others
Let this my motto be
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee.

One album cover among MANY I remember...
My travel time to be with my mother and dad is frequently spent in prayer.  For others.  Seems there are SO many needs, large and small, among my friends and acquaintances.  Our small community has experienced several tragic deaths recently.  The nursing home where Mother resides is full of folk and their families who carry heavy burdens. Our small church family has their share of challenges, disappointments and stresses.  Then there's my family...

As I drove the now-familiar route this morning, this song from the past kept playing in my mind.  I remembered ALL of these words and came home this evening to look up the other verses.  I remembered the deep baritone voice and the name of the singer. Tonight, his name escapes me...

I DO remember other long-play albums my mother used to play on our large, stereo unit that stood in the living room of the parsonage in which we lived  Speakers placed the music strategically throughout the house.  What a legacy I have in the strong messages of those great songs!  The Revivaltime Choir, an album or two of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and their children, Helen Barth, The Blackwood Brothers, Bill Pierce and Dick Anthony, The Melody Four and Sixteen Singing Men, The White Sisters, George Beverly Shea...these are just a few singers  whose albums come to mind.  

Frank Boggs!
I just remembered!
Just in time to title this post...

Charm in Alleyways

Last weekend included an outing to a nearby town where we walked pleasurably
along streets lined with lovely old houses.
Occasionally, we chose to wander through alleyways that looked particularly interesting.
As a result, I posted this photo on my facebook page with the comment,
"Never overlook the potential for charm in an alleyway."
Thinking it over some more, I would add -
"Never miss an opportunity to create some charm (or beauty) in an obscure place."
It's a lesson I want to put into practice today.

Look for the beauty;
create the beauty.

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--
especially to those in the family of faith.  Galatians 6:10


Early evening on our front porch.

My Heart Goes After Shadows

 'My God, how far I am from acting  according to what I know so well! I confess it, my heart goes after shadows. I love everything better than communion with You. I am ever eager to get away from You. Often I find it difficult even to say my prayers. There is hardly any amusement I would not  rather take up than set myself to think upon You. Give me grace, O my Father,  to be utterly ashamed of my own reluctance! Rouse me from sloth and coldness  and make me desire You with my whole heart. Teach me to love meditation,  sacred reading and prayer. Teach me to love what must  engage my mind for all eternity.' (Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman)

I frequently visit The Breadbox Letters.  I seldom leave without being challenged or inspired by the quotations and meditations Nancy has culled from sources rich in truth and piety.  This prayer she recently posted expresses MY heart's desire SO well--a heart so prone to "go after shadows"... 

Kind Of....but Kind of Not

Hanging on the basement staircase wall at my parents' home
are old letters from three of their grandchildren - missionaries' children.
This one caught my eye a couple of days ago.  
Especially that last sentence....
I chuckled to myself as I thought how many times I have been
"kind of excited about going but kind of not."
This kind of "tension" is what keeps God's children sharp--
useful in the world and dependent on Him, I think.
Apparently the Apostle Paul thought so, too

And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ whether I live or die.  For to me, living means living for Christ and dying is even better.  But if I live I can do more fruitful work for Christ.  So I really don't know which is better.  I'm torn between two desires:  I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.  But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.  
(Philippians 1:20-24)

The Timing is Perfect

Three chapters in, and I'm blessed!  
"If we have surrendered to the fact that Jesus was telling the truth,
then the world in which we live is really a exciting place.
It's a place of romance and adventure, a place of promise and possibility,
a place of confidence ad joyous expectation.  
But more than that, our world is a place of love."
"Procrastination is perhaps the worst, the most damaging failure of all."  
"In the final analysis, the real challenge of Christian growth is personal responsibility."  
"What the world longs for from the Christian faith is the witness of men and women daring enugh to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, wild enough to be burnt in the fire of love, real enough to make others see how unreal they are."
"Jesus....Let Your Word not shine in our hearts but let it burn..."
Manning's style is intense and intimate; personal and probing.
It's difficult to be satisfied with less than more in one's relationship with Jesus 
after reading his words.
This is not a new book and contains reflections from Manning's early life.
I picked it up awhile ago at a thrift store (I think) and sat it aside to read at a later date.
That date is now.  
As usual, the timing is perfect.

Mother's Day

 The candles are ready - tied with a bow -
 for the children who come to the front of the auditorium
tomorrow for the kids' talk at church
to take back to their mothers.
The talk will go something like this...

Our moms take care of us, help us with homework, fix meals, read to us, what else?  They teach us, take care of us when we get sick, and some moms go to work too! Our moms do SO much! They are strong and busy and fun.

 But sometimes... sometimes... moms get tired, don't they? Sometimes moms get headaches, or they get sick, or they just don't feel good, right?  And sometimes moms have tears, don't they? They can be happy tears, like at a wedding. But sometimes our moms are just very sad and they cry. Then what do we do? Hmm...

Well, I learned something in the Bible about Jesus. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He still showed how He cared for His mother. He told His disciple, John, to take care of His mother when He went to heaven. Jesus really cared about His mother.

 I learned something else in the Bible about Jesus.  The Bible says Jesus would never snuff out a smoldering wick. The part that we light is the wick.  It's easy to put the candlelight out, but Jesus would never do that.  He is careful and gentle with the candle's flame.  e is gentle with a person who is tired.  He is gentle when people are sick and gentle when someone is sad.  And that's what we can do when mom is tired.  Be gentle with her!  When she is sick, we can give her a gentle hug or gentle words.  When she is sad, a gentle gift can help.  

I want to give you each a gift for you to give to your mother.  It is a brand new candle.  Sometimes a candle with a gentle, soft smell helps moms feel better!

"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, 
till he has brought justice through to victory."  Matthew 12:20

Borrowing Prayer

Sometimes when I don't know how to express my own heart to God, 
I "borrow" the prayers of others - like THIS one this morning.
Line by line.  Sentence by sentence.
Pausing between them.
By the time I'm done, it's my own.  
Often, with the reading of the prayer, 
the "pump is primed" and I continue on with additional personal words.   
Frequently I return to the ending of the printed prayer
and end with a sincere & hearty "Amen".
Other times, the prayer is open-ended...

Suffer us not to live selfish or useless lives.

Perfect Gifts/Perfect Timing

Unexpected and thoughtful, the timing of this gift was beautiful.
So thankful.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17

Skin to Floor

I padded across the kitchen floor to the coffee pot this morning.  As I did, my bare foot felt the presence of a small foreign object.  I paused to pick up the offending (and unidentified) object and toss it into the trash before pouring my cup of coffee...

As I did, I thought how many times I've had a similar experience. Sometimes, it's a sticky spot that the bottom of my foot perceives.

Going shoeless, as I frequently do in the house, proves to be a good - though unintentional - detector of things that need attention.  (I also realize tt's probably because my husband seldom goes barefoot that he  doesn't see the floor the same way I do.  And that could be the subject of a whole 'nother post! )

This morning, I am reminded of "walking barefoot" through life.   Without barriers that would desensitize me to the needs of others around me.  Skin to floor.  Noticing and responding to the bumps and sticky stuff that need attention and taking appropriate action to help.

This morning, I "saw" with my feet.  As I leave the house, I  want to see with my "heart".  I want to live skin to floor.

Do you know what I mean?

 "How beautiful are the feet of those...."  Romans 10:15


 It's a small book.  Maybe 3"x 6".   It's an old book.  Spine taped to hold it together.
We read its daily prayer as a "closer" to our devotional time, my husband and I.
Almost ALWAYS there is something uniquely fitting to our current situation, 
and today was no exception.
*** with gladness of heart, without haste or confusion of thought, we go about our daily tasks, conscious of ability to meet every rightful demands, seeing the larger meaning of little things, and finding beauty everywhere.
...may we live above all the influences that depress and discourage, and come into that assurance of faith which is itself the victory that overcometh the world.
...we would enter into the secret place of Thy presence, that, hidden with Thee, our souls may be filled with a sense of Thy sheltering care...
There is something reassuring about having a "closer" to our morning quiet hour.
(Closer = a person or thing that closes or ends something.)
Do you have a closer?  And if so, would you share what it is?

Travel With Me

From my travels in our backyard..
 I frequently "travel" the world via the interesting blog, Freunde von Freunden.  While "there" this morning, in the Indian district of Gaya, I "met" the enterprising and inspiring Usha Prajapati.  Part of her journey to success involved learning English.  The interviewer made the following observation:

Sitting in that tiny 4×4 classroom with her English tutor, Usha says she learned what English was really about: building confidence. Her only instruction was to never break eye-contact with her teacher no matter how much she stammered or how ungrammatical she felt her sentences were.

I couldn't finish the post!  The life lesson leaped boldly and clearly from the screen to my heart-- possibly because in the past 24 hours, two unrelated Facebook friends had posted of their insecurities and doubts.  Both had recently either actually BEEN judged or FELT judged by people in their lives. Both seemed consciously or unconsciously to be seeking  feedback; affirmation; validation.

Then Usha crossed my path (or I hers).  And there it was!  
Feedback.  Affirmation.  Validation.  For my two friends. And for me...
Her only instruction was never to break eye-contact with her teacher
 no matter how much she stammered or how ungrammatical she felt her sentences were.

Today with fresh clarity and enthusiasm, I embrace the words of Hebrews 12:2:  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  No matter what or when insecurities or doubts arise in me, no matter how much I stammer or how ungrammatical I feel, I will maintain eye-contact with my Teacher.  

Won't you "travel" with me?

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Someone close to me has a  battered, broken heart this morning.
The reason doesn't matter anymore.  The sting is strong.
The outcome was harsh.  If there was justice, it is veiled.
I had difficulty sleeping last night as I hashed and rehashed the situation,
and I woke feeling burdened and helpless.
Bible verses like "Don't worry about anything; pray about everything"
and phrases like"When God closes a door, He opens a window"
don't bring much comfort. Yet.
The scabs of past personal hurts seem to have been scratched off,
and I bleed a bit myself.
Then I go to my Twitter account and read:  
Sometimes it's either collapse on Christ, or collapse under the weight of sadness and anger
Sometimes forgiving is all about us, not the person who hurt us. 
Refusing to forgive is slow emotional suicide. Bitterness kills.
It's okay to hurt, but it's never okay to hate. Let's steward our pain well, or it will spend us.
 Jesus promises rest and peace, and ultimate resolve. Trust or rust.
All by Scotty Smith.   (I wonder if HE was dealing with a battered, broken heart, too?)
Coincidence that these were freshly posted?
I don't think so.
"Blessed are those who mourn" (Matt 5:4). There is so much in this world we cannot remedy.
 But we can mourn. And that matters to Him.
(Ray Ortlund, Twitter.  Also this morning.)
Indeed.  We can mourn.

Writing a Song a Week #3

Writing a Song a Week #3
♪ I wait for the Lord; my soul waits and in his word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning ♪ (Psalm 130:5-6)