Friday, October 27, 2006

A nicer picture...

Here is a nicer picture of the "Bump" from the outside. His mother is ok too! I miss her very much as you can be sure but getting pics from her do help. I know I should have other things to say but they are my favorite news of late.

That said, I did paint the wall behind our bed this past week and all I have to say about that is that if I did it every day I'd be in shape. I am shocked how sore the muscles (or the place the muscles used to be) got climbing up and down the ladder to do the trim and cutting in bits. The ceiling is 9 feet so I had to risk life and limb trying to reach it standing on the last lawful rung (second from top) on our ladder. The trim work took 4 hours, the actual wall painting with roller only 30 mins a coat..whew...hope I like brown for a long long time as I don't want to do that again.

It's starting to be crisp and fall like here, in the 30's at night and perhaps 70 on a good day in the day time, 60's more often. I have always loved this time of year. That's all for now, sorry I have no deep thoughts at the mo. We've just finished a few busy weeks here and both hubby and I are hoping for a wee lull. We're looking forward to our daughter in law "Sunny" visiting over the December holiday...that and hint hint to the rest of our offspring, the EXTRA hour of sleep we get this weekend! Oh how I prefer the fall back clocks...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Well it's official...

I went with "Sweet Baby and her hubby" for her sonography appointment. Here is a poor quality snap from my phone of the "bump" and the answer to "Do they know what they're having" (other than, Lord willing, a BABY.) They are 99.9 percent sure they want to name him Samuel, Sam for short but the middle name is still being wrangled over. I had a lovely but very short visit to Maryland and will tell more when time allows. I am at the moment still in the midst of a migraine which started 2 days ago.

For now, we are rejoicing in God's merciful care over this wee one. I would also like to show my age by being amazed at all they can see with the sonogram. They don't just look at gender and size but they view the valves of the heart, the bones, the blood flow in the placenta etc. It was very exciting, though I think the father looked like he might faint (-: Little Sam was very busy using my dear daughters womb walls as a trampoline.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Deja Vu ?

My apologies for not posting in so long. We have had house guests and a lot of non-blog activity of late.

Thank you all for various comments etc. Dr. J, thank you for sharing your exciting news. Lord willing we'll be grannies at the same time. One local friend is also anticipating the arrival of a first grandchild so I get to sort of view her daughter as a stand in for what my long distance one might look like at any given moment.

I am heading off to Maryland to see the "Pea and the Pod." I am scheduled to go with her and her hubby for the sonogram which should tell us if said child is a boy or a girl. Will let you know when I know, unless they decide to keep it private for some reason.

For those of you who wonder how my health is, I'm, praise God, keeping on at an even dramatic "iron loss", asthma in check although have been very stuffy of late. They say that the Sagebrush and something called Chenopods (sp?) are having a fair amount of pollen at the mo. and I don't think I come from a place where I've had Sagebrush exposure before. My allergies have apparently gone west...what's next, tumbleweed allergies? Cacti reactions? Regardless, I suffer way less with allergies than I did in Maryland so I am most grateful to God for the milder climate allergy wise. We do have lots of fires in Idaho and this year got quite nasty with smoky skies, this plays havoc with many asthmatics and those with breathing woes. At it's peak I believe 19 fires were burning.

Sweet Baby and her hubby (I'll try to work with them to come up with an Alias for him to use here...I'm thinking " Absent minded Professor?" not that he's a professor but he is a bookworm with occasional absence of mind) took a cross country trip to see some of God's most lovely creation. They found it ...GINORMOUS! I don't think they had any sense of how long the drive can feel when one is crossing North or South Dakota.

At one point, the expectant mother needed very much to find a "rest stop"...I went online to try and find out which of the upcoming names on the map could pass for a "town" or "village" of a size to support a gas/petrol station or truck stop or some such that would have facilities. I finally found a town with a Walmart. The only one I think in North Dakota, or at least for several hours in any direction. I called the store for an exit no. to help them find their way. A woman with what I assumed was a thick "local" accent told me " Well now, they jist git off a exit XYZ and they'll come to the river, cross the bridge there, go over the rail road tracks and round the Prison, then you'll be on zyx street and there we are." all said in a tone that suggested I or they surely must be aware of the prison, it likely drawing visitors from around the state. ...I figure the two places of note were likely the largest employers in the area.And visiting day at the prison perhaps constitutes the big crowd day at Wallyworld. Not to be elitist...there but for the grace of God go I and mine...though I would hope if any of my kin ends up in the big pen it would be in the middle of somewhere vs nowhere.

Noting here as well, that if sin, original and self generated (what is the proper name for the latter? must be a theological term for such) earned us time in the big house, we'd all be wearing orange and having the leg irons and even THAT would be far milder than hell for eternity. What a thought.

Hope all (10?) readers and friends are doing well and knowing much of the mercy of God.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pink Eye?

Conjunctivitis despite the "Pink Eye" alias, looks nothing like the illustration to the left. I am 44 years old, too old for such a childhood illness one would think. Apparently not.

"Sweet Baby" and her Hubby (do I have a name for him yet, I can't recall) and the bump-ette are en-route to parts West. They hope to see Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, and not Grizzly Bears. They hope to do this on a shoestring. Pray that the Lord would go before them and bless their time together and with all those they meet.

They had planned to leave tomorrow but ended up able to get a jump on things and leave tonight. A few short hours ago, I wrote a friend who lives in Pittsburgh, to ask if she knew of any cheap hotels in reputable area's or hostels etc and she said "Hey, my Mum is away, they can stay at her place." I am so grateful for God's provisions by way of my friend and her absent Mum. She made this offer knowing they won't be there until after midnight. God bless those who offer hospitality, what a picture of God's mercy and care. I have been blessed many times in my life by those folk who have opened their homes to me and bless God to recount those faithful souls.

The"kids" are willing to "rough it" and to sleep in the car if need be. This isn't something "mother" is fond of thinking about. SB reminds me that folk in Africa having few comforts. Hmm. "Mother" (me?) thinks about Grizzly bears in national parks, SB says "What about Providence?" That said, I've likely raised her to the right side of paranoid and she'll be doing well if she has the nerve to walk 50 feet on a marked Path without a tour guide.

I don't have time to write about it now as my own dear hubby returns to me this night from an unexpected 3 day trip to KY where he officiated at the funeral of a friend. What I would like to note, and ponder more upon, is the gap between how the world offers hospitality and how those who are of the household of faith offer it. Something to think about for a future discussion. Feel free to comment if you have thoughts on the matter.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Women Reading

I have tried various programs and schedules of reading through the bible, with varying degree's of success. The fault being mine, not the program's. That said, I have found it useful in my desire to be a devoted student of the scriptures, to use various "helps" along the way.

In the last six years, I have noted a few things in my readings of various saints. From Thomas Boston's memoir, I have read his report of finding answers to prayer and guidance from God in what he refers to as "my ordinary"...I have seen this phrase or something similar, in the writings of other pious souls. It is my understanding that by this he meant, that he was, far from "lucky dipping" (horrid phrase, meaning opening the bible and sticking one's finger in it and expecting an answer written out for one in the spot) he would be reading according to his usual daily plan (whatever that was in his case, be it through a particular book of scripture, by a calender of readings etc.) and that he found aid from God through the holy spirit in the instructions there, aid often seeming to perfectly suit the concerns he had been crying out for, in prayer.

Another thing I have noted, particularly in the Memoir of Mrs. Marion Veitch, wife of a persecuted Scottish covenanting pastor, is that she would plead the promises of Scripture, in prayer, for herself and those she loved. (Actually, she'd plead the promises of scripture regarding evildoers as well, that they would be stopped in their wicked ways.) In Mrs. Veitch case, she would often refer to a promise as being one she believed the "lord had made out to her" much as a check would be, to be taken to the bank.( Spurgeon similarly had a wee devotional book based upon the promises of God called "The Checkbook of Faith.") I am unable to find her exact words at the moment as I seemed to have lost the fragile wee volume which held her memoir but the spirit of her view of the Word, is there in my paraphrase. Again, as with Boston, I was deeply impressed by the tremendous volume of scripture she had "hidden in her heart." Someday perhaps I'll start another site which might feature excerpts from the various women's writings I have collected.

Now I am reading a new publication of Ruth Bryan's letters, and again, in these pages, am reminded of how intimate she was with the word of God.

In all these combined readings, I am struck with the awareness that I and any others of our day, who are not faithfully taking onboard the word of God with the Holy Spirit's enabling, reading it, ruminating upon it, doing all those wonderful things we are told to do with the word in Psalm 119, cannot truly expect to have the type of intimacy with God, that these foreparents enjoyed. Yes, I do tend to agree with friends who have suggested that God is not seeming to pour out his riches on our generation as he did, say in the time of Rutherford and his peers, but certainly there is a way we can go in seeking such fellowship with God as can be had in our day.

I know from experience, which to my shame is far smaller than it ought to be given my days on this earth, that the times when I have been most spiritually uplifted, encouraged, and most fully fixed upon Christ and his loveliness have been when I have been seeking him Where he is found, in the pages of the Word of God. While the holy spirit has graciously stirred me at times from a cooling state, it has always been to bring me near the fire of the word and prayer round that fire, in very fact and deed, back to GOD himself, not my notions of God, not warm fuzzies about God, but to God as He manifests Himself in His own word. (A side note for the faint of heart, those times of sweetness with Christ have also often co-incited with a fair amount of pain and or heartache either physical or emotional. ( "It is good that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statues."Ps. 119:71)

I do believe that there are various ways and means of being a faithful student of the word, so far be it from me to prescribe any one methodology. In fact the very word methodology reminds me to say emphatically that we need grace and the outpouring of the holy spirit in our every spiritual motion, including this one. I know that I often have to pray to be prayerful, and pray to have both desire and discipline stirred up.

Years ago, I used to quite enjoy doing deep inductive studies of a particular book of scripture, and I still highly recommend such a thing. However what I found all too often, is that when I finished a particular book of the Bible, I'd fall into this "what next" lull that could eat up a huge portion of time while I "decided" what portion to study....there could come a form of interia. Having a daily reading plan was helpful because I didn't have to get stuck wondering "whatever shall I do" if the spirit would be displeased if I read the "wrong" book ...Even if one does "take off" from the through the bible type reading for a few weeks of inductive study, it is simple just to look at the date in Mc'Cheyne or the day of the week in the new program I'm mention below, and take up where one is supposed to be.

For years I've been a fan of the plan known as the "M'Cheyne" plan. (see links section.) I appreciate the order he goes in and that his plan contains portions of the various parts of scripture daily. One does not get stuck never getting past the book of numbers with such daily variety.

I am now at the point of trying out a new plan. Since it is a plan that could perhaps encourage those who have ended up leaving off other plans waiting for the start of a new year, hoping this year will be different, I thought I'd share it with you. I thought it might also be a good plan for those who have young children who need so many hours of care day and night. I found this plan in notes from Toad Hall by Margery Haack. I have a link to the plan pages here and to the website it originates in the links section.

The plan entails reading through different types of scripture according to what day of the week it is. On every Lord's day: O.T Poetry. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays it is O.T history, on Friday's the reading is N.T History and Saturday :N.T Epistles. The plan can be printed out and stuck in one's bible. While it does suggest fairly large chunks for some of the readings, I figure the faint of heart, or overly time pressed could simply cross off the portions read and not fill in the box indicating completion until the suggest reading is done, even if it takes two Mondays to finish one box worth. The woman who suggested this plan said she took 1.5 years to get through the entire bible. Having done M'Cheyne now for about 4 years, I'm rather looking forward to a suggested reading list that has me being able to enjoy the spot and topic I'm in rather than flipping to various readings in one sitting.

I've been pondering if there is any way for the gals in our congregation (or even those far off who read this blog) might like to either meet, or email each other as a form of aid and encouragement to each other, regarding our devotional lives. I know of one group of sisters who have what they call "the 5 am club" or some such, and they encourage each other to be up and reading in the wee hours...their "club" spawned others at other hours of the day (not everyone is likely to feel 5 am to be their best time.) I know that plans of such a type can lend themselves toward folk doing the right thing for the so called "wrong reason"...obviously the point of being in the word is for one's greatest benefit and one shouldn't need a nudge, but fallen as we are, sometimes plans, books, a new set of colored markers for writing in the margins of our study bible, can be a boost to our clay flesh. I like the idea of an email check in or report as it doesn't encourage getting side tracked with chatting. (I am black: the pot and the kettle.)

And for those of you who read faithfully but at times find yourself trudging through, all I know to say is, keep on keeping on for the promises are sure, that there is great reward and blessing in knowing the word of God. He has promised to draw near to us when we draw near to him. It is and can be a struggle, it is the "good fight"we have not the "good ease and repining". I think prayer can help break through the seasons of dry reading, praying over what we read, asking God for his strength to press on. It could be helpful to go through Ps. 119 noting all that is said there about God's word. There are also volumes written on Psalm 119 which could be a helpful encouragment in one's study of the Word. Perhaps I can post a few here as I go along.

If any of you sisters out there have idea's on this matter of being in the word, encouraging each other in it, by all means post a comment or write me privately.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Letters of Ruth Bryan

I am currently reading a book recommended to me by my dear sister in the Lord, who I have also referred to in past as the"English Rose"... The book, "The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ" by Ruth Bryan, published by Reformation Heritage Books, is available through their website or through Amazon.

For a taste of Ruth's writing see Grace Gems who has several of her letters available to read online.

Here is one portion I particularly appreciated. Having just lost her dear Mother, the last of her near relations she wrote the following to a friend...

"I have had a very comforting though lately," she said, " in remembering 'Thy Maker is thine Husband.' it is so sweet to think, Who is to manage the house? Surely the Husband. Who is to pay the debts? The Husband. Who is to order everything? The Husband. And who has a right to remove anything from the house that has taken too much of the Bride's heart away from Himself? Why surely the Husband. And that is what he has done in removing my dear mother, for since then, He Himself has been more precious to my soul. I see Him in it all, that stops the repinings and murmurings."

Her writing can at times seem overly flowery to the modern sensibility, but there is a real sense that she is simply effusive, rather than using excess words gratuitously. Unlike some letters/memoirs of her day (She died after a long bout of cancer in 1860), one senses she is being reasonably transparent with regard to her struggles and failings.

I recommend it to those who enjoy such writings. We have so few examples of the writings of Godly women, that I have long been passionate about reading all of those I come across.

BOOKLOVERS NOTE: While Westminster Theological Bookstore does not carry the book I mention above and I am all about encouraging folk to order from Reformation Heritage Books the publisher of the Bryan Book, I do want to note that I am pleased that Westminster Theological offers a wonderful flat rate shipping for US customers, of $5.00 which is a great value if you are wanting to order several books they have. That said, yes you can get free shipping at Amazon if you spend over 30 dollars, but sometimes Amazon has larger delays on obscure Christian titles and university press type titles...Just something worth noting.

Friday, August 11, 2006

What I'm not knitting for "baby"

I'm not sure what makes the bonnet in the 1900's knitting pattern to the left a "Fairy" bonnet. I'm not knitting it regardless. I am also not sure that the "Darling" bonnet in blue is not for a boy. In fact, I'm guessing the child pictured replete with dress, is a boy. In the era before snaps, one can see why dresses on infant boys made more sense.

"Sweet Baby" and "Sweetpea" are doing fine. I haven't come up with a Alias for her husband, my Son-in-law yet. As a side note, I recall that I have noted how a particular author refers to her children in laws, consistently as "Son-in-love" and "Daughter-in-love" and I note to self, at the risk of offending those of you who might adore the phrase, that I have always found that phrase obnoxiously saccharine.

Now I observe that surely "Sweet-baby" and "Sweet-Pea" are likely just as bad. Now I note again why we shouldn't judge and that perhaps something being cloyingly sweet or excessively "Twee" is a matter of taste.

I suppose I could take a page out of one of our elders blogbook and use names lifted from the movies? The only thing that comes to mind is that baby of Olive Oyl and Popeye.... That's it, since I don't know the gender of this womblet, I'm going with Sweet-pea. I have been known also to refer to the little bit as "The Bump"...

Anyway, all of this is to say that pea and pod are both well by God's mercy and that the mother in question is starting to feel less nauseous as is expected.

I am knitting for both the expectant mother and the weeun. My finger joints are starting to act up painfully such as I've not noticed in years and I wonder if this is a co-incidence (peri-meno hormone changes are supposedly prone to making for more joint pain) or is it the knitting? I hope not. I don't want to end up with headline "Granny treated for anti-inflammatory addiction, says she just wanted to finish infant blanket." I'm not known for my finishing projects in the best of times but this time I'm determined, God willing, to actually be able to finish and even upload a picture of actually finished item.

On another note, as much as my Hubby and I would love to be over in the U.K, given what is going on in the news right now, we are rather grateful not to be having to make decisions regarding flying to and from Heathrow. Hope you are all well and knowing much of the Lord's goodness and mercy.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Odds and Ends...

Apologies for taking so long to update the blog. The health struggles continued much of the interim but thanks be to God, are seeming to show improvement, which I pray is not temporary. I also pray that if it is temporary that the Lord will uphold my spirit in the process.

This evening I enjoyed listening to an MP3 file from Sermonaudio preached by Robert Godfrey on the so called "Reforming Queen" Jeanne D'Albret. I found it encouraging, perhaps you might as well. It can be found at

Trying to learn a bit more about J.Gresham Machen I note this.....Sometimes I find the simply put sentence about a spiritual reality to be the most profound. J.Gresham Machen's last known sentence on Jan 1st 1937, dying at the age of 56, he sent by telegram to his good friend and colleague at Westminster Seminary, John Murry, the following...

"I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it."

I could write that quote every day on this blog and be quite content that there is nothing more to say. Goodnight, will write soon Lord willing.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sweet baby's news...

I don't know when I started calling my dear daughter "Sweet baby" but it happened somewhere along the way. I also refer to her as RJ when writing due to laziness on my part. In the spirit of "web anonymity" I shall use one or the other interchangeably in this wee piece.

I was asked this last week by said "child" (Age 25.5) what I'd like the grandchildren to call me. I got half a sentence through a response about how Benjamin and Emily (Dear Husband's grand babies who I've been blessed to call my own as well) were going to call me "Mama Lucy" (Long story which I shall spare you) at which point I realized that she was not referring to what "those" grand babies called me but rather what her children would call me?...I sure am slow on the uptake, not swift enough to be a grandma! Well I don't know the answer to her question but I am most pleased to announce that my own dear girl is by God's merciful providence, carrying their first child. She is said to be "due" Lord willing, February 22. Her mother (that's me) thinks it would be uber cool if she could give birth on Feb 16th as that would make her the third generation of my women to have given birth on that date. She respectfully declined to think that was in any way cool.

My observation this far, pregnancy is far more nerve wracking and looks way more "miserable" experientially from without. She has a horrid cold now and is missing the "ability" to take Nyquil. I'm half tempted to have a swig of the stuff in her honor, her lack of being able to take it makes the horrid green stuff suddenly seem mythical in goodness.

On another note, we have come to accept, with reluctance, that my ongoing "iron loss" concerns are enough that our much anticipated trip to the home of my heart, Scotland, will not be booked for September. We hope to visit our dear friends abroad as soon as God will enable us to do so.

For those who have enquired as to what is going on physically with me, things are still pretty much same old same old, with my having about 5 weeks of "bad" followed by the last few days being exceptionally good. I am still downing as much 150mg iron as I can, about 6o pills in the last 90 days which the doctor assures me is a heroic effort. I hope to have blood drawn soon to see if I have made any improvement or if I am least keeping from falling further into the iron deficiency hole. Also, thank you for your prayers, my Asthma is doing much better provided I stay on my medication.

It did occur to me to start asking folk to pray specifically that God would, in mercy, end my excessive bleeding by natural means. This is what the husband and I both hope and pray for. For those who might wonder, he is as eager to see me avoid major surgery as I am to avoid it.

I think often of all my dear friends whom I have not been able to see but who are in my thoughts and is lovely to be able to keep up with you both through whatever means available. I know I owe a few notes and replies, please pardon, especially my dear friend to the North, you know who you are.

For those who as, my dear friend Seonag is praise God, continuing her struggle with cancer and has been able by God's grace to enjoy the goodness of God throughout. She has had many precious visits with family and friends and has been able to go up to her island homeland to spend time with her 90 year old father and siblings. She hopes to be able to go visit there again in a fortnight or so, for those of you praying for her. She has some nerve pain and other concerns but is otherwise doing remarkably well.

Sadly a dear sister in Christ, Susan Harding, has been called home after a difficult battle with cancer, much to the completeness of her joy, but to our sorrow. She was an amazing example of Godly womanhood and Christian service and I shall always be glad that I was privileged to know her evey briefly. I look forward to praising the Lord with her in glory. Please remember her husband John and their 5 children and their families at this time.

Sorry for the delay in getting an update out, I find I often have only so much energy and have to ration it for whatever is most urgent or pressing.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Way to go Girl!

Congratulations are in order for Miss H....hope your graduation day is lovely and full of happy memories.
Sure it's only a wee pause on your chosen path, but you've worked hard, enjoy your day!!!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Commanded to Hope

I am sorry that it has been so long since I have posted. I was afflicted with Asthma a couple weeks ago, was gloriously improved by being put on Prednisone, was praise God, able to enjoy daughter and Son-in-law's visit while animated by said drug, and am now seriously declined as I come off the meds. I need a Pulmonologist and they are booked up till I don't know when. (I haven't been able to get them to say, I was told that the lady who does the appointments will call me, not the other way around, and that if I am too bad before then, go to the emergency room.) Please pray I am able to get the Asthma under control. My GP doesn't have anything else to offer and he is apparently afraid to keep me on steroids.

Meanwhile, my spirits are reasonably good, though I have that kind of almost creepy resigned peacefulness I associate with feeling unable to breathe well but it's pleasant enough whatever the cause. I am trying to move very slowly and talk little so as not to start myself up with the struggling for air and coughing fits which only make me worse. I am so thrilled and excited that I felt "well" for a week on steroids and that that week in providence coincided with Rj's visit. We didn't "do" much really, but we did have sweet fellowship of the mother daughter sort. Will tell more later, but need to rest now. Please pray I find a Pulmonologist to see me soon.

Picture above is looking down over Boise from Bogus basin road. The quote below from Calvin is just perfect for my heart right now...I want to write it out and meditate upon God's mercy demonstrated in what Calvin says.

"I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.

And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.

The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.

As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee." Psalm 87

While unbelievers abound in wealth and flourish in reputation and authority--one sees the poor church subjected to infinite dangers and ills (what is more, one sees her overwhelmed, just like a ship ready to sink):her happiness consists primarily in the eternal state that God has established for her in his kingdom.

The circumstance of the time in which this psalm was written will help us to understand it better. For although the people had then returned from Babylon where they had long been held captive; although the church had been gathered together as in a body, so as to be no longer dispersed as she had been; although the temple had been built and the altar erected to offer the sacrifices, and the whole divine service had been restored; nevertheless, because only a handful of people had returned to the holy land, in comparison with the great multitude that left it, and because what was left of them decreased daily, because of the attacks and assaults of enemies, so that the condition of this people was very contemptible; and also because the temples did not have such majesty as before; all this made it very hard for the faithful to expect good from the time to come; and furthermore, it seemed impossible for them ever to be restored to the estate, to the state from which they had fallen.

Therefore, as they bought to mind their defeat and undoing, and thought on all the ills by which they were continually burdened, the danger existed that they might be overwhelmed and finally fall into despair and give way altogether. So, the goal of the Psalm is to comfort them, lest they be disheartened in their afflictions. To do this, God not only promises them that they shall recover what they lost, but he commands them to hope for much more; namely an incomparable glory, as he had also promised them by his prophet Haggai (2:1), that the majesty of the second temple would be greater than that of the first one.

God meant for this comfort to have such power and import for the faithful of that time, that it would not only be able to raise them up again so they would not be cast down by so many ills, but that it might even be able to draw them back out of the sepulchre, so to speak, and lift them right up to Heaven. Now since we know about the things predicted about those times have been fulfilled, we have very little grace, if the experience of the ancient fathers, joined together with the promises of God, are not enough to confirm our faith and double it.

Calvin's exposition on Psalm 87

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Refreshing Seasons"

Two dear friends, of the "English Rose" variety, sent me a packet with a lovely note, a couple of encouraging Christian pamphlets and the following quote, taken from the Spurstowe book " The Wells of Salvation Opened" (available for purchase from Reformation Heritage Books )

"Refreshing Seasons"
"The summer and winter, by an inviolable ordinance He has made to succeed each other , the one to be as a key to open the womb of the earth that it might discharge itself of its many births; The other as a key to shut it, that so it might not languish and grow barren by a perpetual travail. Now if the wisdom of God has has these common mercies wherein His enemies have a share (as well do others) set such appointed times, as may make them more useful and beneficial to his creatures, certainly He will not fail to perform to His people the promises of His free grace in that season and fullness of time, which may best suit their welfare and his glory. " - William Spurstowe (1605-1666)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rejoicing over God's provisions...

Note: The ramble below was written a week ago and does not reflect that I am much improved in health since.
I have absolutely no tie in between this picture and what I expect to post. I have always had a major thing for river rocks. I suppose I could try and wax lyrical and making a connection between what I planned to blog and this picture but it would be contrived.

Over the years of visiting New Hampshire the oft repeated phrase "ooohhh look at this one, we have to take THIS one, it's really different, see how sparkly, grey and pink..(fill in blank___) is?", and the semi-nagging concern "what if we are depleting the river bed to its ultimate ruin..Is there a conservation law about river rocks?" competed in my thoughts with enough success that our car's muffler was not touching the highway but likewise the garden did not lack a proper rock pile. NOTE: No matter how stunning they are fresh from the river bed, they look like nearly identical smooth black rocks once they leave their "natural" environment for yours.

Now living in Idaho, where people actually pay garden centers to bring in large rocks and set them decoratively about the yard, ("yes sir, just hoist that one over there atop the imported sod, which is atop the obligatory sprinkler system, which is atop desert sand , just right of the tumble weed" ) I am sorry that I don't have a couple of those New Hampshire rocks in my back yard.(We do have a vinyl garden Gnome named Mr. McTavish, who came all the way from Ft. William, Scotland in his own train seat, but that is a another story including how we don't "believe in Gnomes")

I wonder if I can go back to the current owners of my former Maryland Cottage and say "see that black rock there, I brought that from New Hampshire back in the 80's, could I have it back now if you aren't using it?"...Of course I'd have to carry it on a plane to get it back here but nae'd be worth it. I wonder if there are nice rocks in the Idaho rivers? Even if there are, it's not the same, they are not New Hampshire rocks. Ah ha...I have a plan, a cunning plan....My daughter and her husband are planning a trip to NH this summer, they could bring me a rock, at least one...they could MAIL me rocks...what a thought! There is hope yet.

Monday night( April 10th), I had a particularly fearful bleeding event, which left me feeling weak knee-d and dizzy. I found myself crying out to the Lord for help more fervently than usual (hand to flame usually does seem to result in at least temporary fervency.) I re-iterated in prayer, confession like, how utterly unable I am to cause ultimate healing in this situation. I repeated how glad I would be to obtain some Cyklokapron but that I also had exhausted my strength for continuing to try and chase some down. I also realized and acknowledged that God could, if he willed, stop the bleeding without any outside intervention but that whatever he chooses to do, I hope with his enabling, to accept gratefully.

You may be thinking, sounds like she is giving up, but she can DO something surely, has not God ordained means ? Of course I can and am doing whatever means seems right. I can aim myself at another doctor's office visit, I can pick the doctor I think is best, I can sign up for whatever procedure seems prudent, but I cannot make those things be effective, even if they are effective, I cannot make them do no harm. The best intentioned and skilled doctor in the world, cannot guarantee a perfect surgery and outcome. No one can promise me that surgery won't be going from the frying pan into the fire. No one can promise that not doing surgery isn't already the fire. Only God knows if just one more month of enduring will or won't see the end of this woe regardless of doing anything. He knows what is just around the corner because he ordains the corner.

To the naked eye, it's all about presumed "risks vs. benefits." I have an uncle whom I've never met, who apparently does "risks vs. benefit" determinations for a living. I think he's called something like a "risk management assessor." I wonder if one has to be an atheist to do the job? Just as it bothers me to hear parents say to their children " I promise I won't let anything bad happen to you" the idea of making decisions based on presumed risk vs benefit boggles my mind. I'm not saying it isn't part of wisdom to weigh up such things, but I expect that one should do such analysis on one's knees, with fearful trembling.

All that said, once it is established in one's mind that God will do as he will, for his glory and our good, my good, then the trembling part can subside somewhat and with the boldness that comes only from the applied blood of Christ, and the help of the Holy spirit, one can have a good long Abba talk, letting the peace that comes from knowing that I'm not called to "know" what will happen, nor to secure outcomes, bring rest to my soul. Knowing the one who can,will, and do to his good pleasure is and should always be enough. If only the brain fog of fatigue, the depletion of health and sleep, and the lingering stench of sin didn't get me off track at times.

I can pray and think and DO....whatever I "DO" be it watchful waiting, the taking of pills, accepting surgical intervention, knowing that God is going to guide, protect, lead, provide, heal, not heal as he sees fit and that he will do good. (four measly lower case letters doesn't seem to do justice to describing what "GOOD" God does.)

I do get afraid, will it hurt ? Will I ever have a full quality life again ?, am I doing the "right" thing ? As I go on in this experience, I have a greater awareness of God's merciful enabling and grace, that will see all of his own, through all that is yet to come.

I know this awareness of God's care, is not profound (the care itself is beyond profound, unimaginably so and is illustrated not only in this life but most particularly in the pages of scripture), any more than prying a whining toddlers hand off the swing set and dragging said child home, only to have them forget all about it and be at peace five minutes later, is profound. It's a duh moment surely, but it feels good when the "safe to rest in Jesus" bit sinks in. I know my sinful self to be enough of an amnesiac, or idiot as the case may be, to need God to "lather rinse repeat" this awareness often. Anymore, I find myself praying as I go to sleep that God will, in mercy, hold on to me, a sinner, not because I doubt his faithfulness but rather because I'm certain of my own unfaithfulness.

One of my favorite books which illustrates the mercy of God on those of us who are forgetful and dense, is called "The Memoir of Mrs. Marion Veitch." She was the wife of one of of the covenanting ministers in Scotland. He was hunted from pillar to post by the King's men and she had to keep herself and her brood of children moving hither and yon without being able to consult her husband as to what he might think best. She was seemingly "on her own" for months at a time, though I do note that he must have managed to return every so often as a new baby would be reported as having arrived.

In her brief memoir, which I hope to print out bits of here in future, she reports regularly arguing with her heart and mind over the promises of God. First she would apply one in faith by aid of the Holy spirit, as made out to her, by a merciful God , much as a check would be. Shortly afterwards she would find herself fretting and forgetting and having to repent of this sin she referred to interchangeably as "unbelief" or "misbelief." I had never heard the term unbelief applied to something a believer might do. In my cultural/church experience, the term unbelief was associated with not believing in God, NOT in failing to trust in the promises of the word. This notion was most fascinating to me, though even now I may prefer the term "misbelief" though I am not certain which word is the more theologically precise.

The idea, that if God promises us something as believers, and we are believing, living, fretting, praying as if these promises are not secure, could be, should rightly be considered a form of unbelief, is I think, very convicting. We apparently (you probably know this through and through, hence proving my point about my own denseness) are not only to believe IN God, but to believe everything he declares in his word regarding...well everything. Himself, his nature, ourselves. This one is worth pondering, but I'm not bright enough to do it justice. I'll put some good quotes relating to this as I find them. Feel free to do the same in the comments section.

So long story longer, after the night of weeping prayer, end of myself (no surely there is more, ugh...wish it were the end of sinful self) knowing all is in God's care, my husband woke me with a parcel from Fiji. It contained the much desired Cyklokapron, the medicine I lived on in the UK to help reduce bleeding and thereby help reduce iron loss. It is enough for 16 days if needed constantly, more days if used occasionally. It cost a small fortune. I had no reason to expect that the parcel would ever arrive , and zero expectation of it coming quickly, but it did, in about 10 days from ordering it. That said, I've not had a "Cyklokapron worthy" episode since it got here, and haven't taken a single pill of it. I don't want to say "God brought me the medicine" but it surely did feel like a wonderful way to start the day and I felt very cared for, in it's provision. Which takes me to my next meander...

Having this medicine, the efforts to obtain which had given me no end of effort and grief, all seemingly to no avail, a medicine I may not be able to stay in supply of for all sorts of reasons, makes it very "rare" and not to be wasted, which gives the said pills a "quality" to them far beyond the "value" one would place on, say a 1000 pill bottle of aspirin from Costco, reminds me of the bigger reality. I could have those pills to hand, and take them, and they may fail to work. They are not my savior. Years ago, I read something in Scudders "The Christian's Daily Walk" (at least I think he said it, now I'm starting to wonder if this is in Baxter's Christian Directory instead...if anyone has this quote, do pass it on) about taking medicine. It was to the effect of "If we say grace, asking God's blessing upon ordinary physick (that being our daily bread) how much more so might we ask God to bless extra-ordinary physick?"....

I was floored by this suggestion when I read it. I was particularly convicted a couple years ago, by the Holy spirit's application of a sermon by David Silversides (link for Loughbrickland in links section) and one by Jonathan Edwards (also sermon audio), that to fail to pray before eating,is to live as practical heathens. I still forget at times, in my haste,to my shame and surely to my souls poverty, to ask God's blessing on every morsel of food I ingest. I agree with Scudder(Baxter?) that it is crucial to thank God for the medicines we take and ask his blessing upon them. Not only have I taken pills without grace, but I know run a sick child to the pediatrician without praying as I went. How merciful and forgiving God is.

Creatures of habit and sinfulness as we are, as I am, I think it can help us to be purposeful in our acknowledgement of God's merciful provisions. It is all too easy to auto-pilot our prayers (which may or may not be prayers in the truest sense of the word but again, another topic) Simply that we might pause with purpose, glass on table, pill in hand,to think of God's providence, purpose, plan, provision in our food, water and medicine. (The asthmatic in me wants to add air, but you get the idea.) All of the above reminds me of the words "Lord I believe, now help my unbelief."....Lather rinse repeat...Comments? Talk amongst yourselves...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Update coming ASAP

Hey ya'll, thanks for the notes and for asking after me. Will do a proper post soon as I can. I am feeling improved, though the situation hasn't really changed that much, in that I am still losing iron, but praise God have been able to take the big iron pills almost every day despite unpleasant side effects. Feeling systemically that I have returned to about 30% of my "old self." The improvement was dramatic after the first week or so of iron, now it is not as dramatic, but I feel much much better than I did at my lowest point. I am also have less heart palpitations as I go on.
I had a good talk with the nurse at my doctor's office which has helped me to feel reassured that I am not alone in this experience. She also helped me to have a better sense of what to expect if things get worse, just so I'll know what to look for. Thanks for the prayers, will write on other matters as soon as I'm able.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Puritan Gravestone Art

I don't know if most of you know this, but I have always been very fond of the style and content of Puritan grave stones. They have various repeating icons, Sometimes a tree of life often represented by the weeping willow. Other stones feature a skull with wings, what I refer to as the Puritan death angel, seen here.

Now you could be thinking how macabre this is, and you would be right I suppose. The whole point of the Puritan grave marker, which is often revealed through their texts (not in the case illustrated) is to remind the living that death will come to all as it did to the body beneath the stone.I don't have any of my books on the subject to hand, but suffice it to say they were often of the "your turn is next" variety, then going on to encourage the reader to consider the shortness of days and seek to secure eternal life while they have breath. I shall try and post a few when I am able...

All of this to say, prayers continue to be appreciated. I am "losing iron" again. I had a break of 6 glorious days, which though filled with feeling weak and heart racings were at least a pause in the cause of my anemia. If I have my way I shan't be euphemistic on my tombstone, but while I'm alive you'll have to read between the lines so I don't distress the occasional male reader with overly particular details of the curse.

Sistern and Brethren, I don't feel like I have anything left to lose blood wise. Will call the lady Dr. if I can to ask yet again, is there anything they can give if this gets desperate, to buy me time to investigate options? I have found no way to get Cyklokapron in Idaho and haven't the strength to travel to Canada or Scotland for more. I do rejoice that the blood of Christ is my all and that this life is only a wee bit of reality...I feel utterly devoid of any ability to wax eloquent about the glories of Christ because not only is my brain fuzzy but every aspect seems dull...the heart still seeks to have sweet fellowship with the Lord in prayer and in resting in him...I just don't know how to say that in a way that doesn't sound like a disclaimer or like I think I've got one foot in the grave...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Belated Update

Please forgive me for taking so long to get an update here. I just have not felt enough energy to post. I realise now that I should have had someone at least go on the comments section and post an update for me. As it is I've been writing this for days, what normally would take me an hour tops, and likely it makes little sense.

The below could sound like "whining" or as the Brits say whinging (though I read now upon checking the spelling that the latter actually is whining without doing anything about the problem, since I am doing everything I have been told to do or can think of, it wouldn't actually fit, but I digress as is my custom.)

Let me say that I am grateful to be alive and for each mercy I have known these past weeks, that of a patient husband, kind friends who inquire as to my health, two reasonably untraumatic drs visits and so on. I am thankful that the holy spirit has pressed upon me and upon other's the need to pray. I tell the details below only in response to inquiries I or the dear husband have had regarding "what has the doctor said" etc..

I saw a woman Dr. this past week. She did as thorough an exam as she could do without additional tests. She said that while what I am experiencing is within the realm of possibilities at this time of life, if it continues beyond a month or two, or gets worse etc, the next step will need to be various tests of a more invasive nature. I will have to continue to have blood levels monitored to be sure the anemia does not get worse, my ferritin level which indicates how much iron remains stored for use is 5 (which is considered an indication of severely depleted iron stores) and my total iron binding capacity is 11 (should be 30 at least) though the hematacrit and hemeglobin levels point to moderate anemia. It is likely I have been anemic longer than the acute blood loss indicates.

The "cause" of my blood loss has finally ceased after 20 days and I have no idea when it will begin again.I clearly haven't much room to lose more. Please pray I can obtain meds which I was on in the UK which will cut bleeding in half volume wise or that I shan't have any bleeding for a good while. Full recovery from an anemic state is said to take at least 6 weeks if not several months (though a dear friend said with iron I could start feeling better in 2-3.)

I am still experimenting with what regimine of iron is tolerable and there are all sorts of things that interfere with getting optimal uptake so I feel like I have to chart out when to take what and when to eat what. There is a posh new prescription iron pill out but it is very large. The pharmacist said I could crush it. I did, it tastes worse than all my childhood cough syrup experiences put together, so bad that chasers only magnify the taste, I had to chew strong gum for about 3 mins to get the flavor to end, perhaps this is the place for "Curiously strong Altoids?"

Part of me says small price to pay, part of me says, there is no way with it being that nasty that I will be likely to stay with it, the flesh being what it is, particularly if I could find an equally good tab that is easier to swallow. I have been lured by the drug's little video on their website to think that they have something unique in their product as it has been shown to be better tolerated and absorbed and so on. I asked the pharmacist what other iron he knew of that would perhaps be easier to swallow and he suggested one. The lady Dr. gave me 12 days of samples of the "new" iron but will prescribe something else as needed.

I was surprised to find myself with crashing fatigue later in the week, the kind where a nap at 7pm doesn't seem out of the question and that after a full nights sleep and perhaps another nap in between. Sleep is, praise God, reasonably good of late though not particularly restorative I suppose because what I really "need" is iron. Some days I feel rather weak and shakey, and find showering to be exhausting. If I feel this bad with anemia how poorly must friends with cancer or chronic illness feel? I don't think I should feel this worn out.

I am seemingly trying to eat the whole population of Idaho's cows, and dh is fixing them for me. I can now rattle off what cereals have the most iron fortification in them and the iron levels of several foods. I also know about the types of iron and what interferes with them being absorbed. I am also taking healthy doses of B1,B6 and B12 as well as vitamin A. I have read that I should perhaps be having E and zinc as well to help iron absorbtion/utilization. I also take Shepherd's purse and Chasteberry tinctures as well as uterine tonics such as Rasberry leaf tea. Who knows if any of it is helping. This has been the biggest lesson I have ever had in the means God has ordained for our body to run nutritionally. I was surely several days late and dollars short when I started losing iron.

At the end of the day dear friends, I may well be headed toward the hysterectomy I desire to avoid if possible. One dear friend, well versed in anemia, who knows me well, assured me that if and when that time comes, I'm going to know. Likely I'll be begging them to do it.

That said given the frustration level I've had of late with my GP's office who seem to want to wash their hands of me (could just be me being extra sensitive due to feeling poorly) , I wonder if I would find any more enthusiastic care from the surgeon's or Gyn's who would do a hysterectomy? Dr. Susan Love, a surgeon herself, refers to the Hyster as the "ultimate breaking and entering" so I can only imagine that a disinterested dr. would add insult to injury. You'd think if you are going the path that seems to be so enthusiastically embraced by others as my cure, they'd at least have some bells and whistles going? I expect a hysterectomy costs at least half of a new car, could they try half as hard as the new car folk to win the customer? I suppose I should be thankful that I've not found anyone who is just oh so kind and helpful and wants my best and will "hold my hand" through surgical intervention and after or I might have signed up already just to have the old paternalistic care I so usually eshew, because it feels nicer than the "figure it out yourself and preferably at another office"options I've been presented this far.

The lady dr. did not feel the above way to me, she just doesn't feel familiar, the way a doctor one has seen for years would feel. She is fairly busy and is exceedingly young so I've yet to find that sense of having someone who will manage my overall health. It feels like the left and right hands are different entities all together (Gp and Gyn), which they likely are not even practicing in the same hospital. I've always preferred to do as much reading and understanding of what is going on medically and in understanding the options available, I just never realised how it would feel when that is all one has available, even when a physician is consulted. I have a friend who is an insider in the local world o'medicine and even then, it seems hardly to be a rosy path.

At the end of the day, I suppose it is just as well that there is frustration with the ways of man and "his" and my limitations because it leaves me back where I always hope to start, which is the knowledge that God knows what will happen in this case, in all cases, and that he can and will undertake for me as he see's fit. I know that when I lie awake praying, or feel tearful or frustrated as to what to do next, that casting myself upon the Lord, is a sure thing, is a certain right step, and will never be in vain.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Prayer appreciated...

Saw the Doctor this week. He ordered blood tests. Several things are out of the normal range and indicate anemia. I also have high platelet levels although they could be the result of blood loss. The Dr. wants me to see another doctor but the one's I'd heard good things about are weeks of waiting for appointments.

Please pray that God would lead me to a kind and wise doctor who will be an advocate for good health while not being over zealous in invasive testing or removing bodily organs. If the latter has to occur please pray that DH and I will know it and have peace over any decisions.

I am increasingly weary and at times afraid. I have had those kind of tears of the last three days which come from sheer exhaustion, teetering on despair and leaving no refreshment in their wake. I do praise God for the kindness and patience and help me dear husband has been to me through this. He is a strong support. I pray that God will repay him. (I also praise God for the easiest blood drawing I have ever had, which went in with nary a pinch and left no bruise)

I have also been turning over in my mind and praying about the admonition to call the elders to pray. I feel self conscious about such a thing, as if
surely this mortifying women's problem is not sufficient to take up their time, but the longer I think on it, the more I feel that I need to obey the admonition of scripture in this matter and leave the outworkings of it to the elders and God. I have one elder here of course but he notes that it is plural, so we shall see who is available and go from there.

And then there is this story below...Which appears in 3 different locations in the NT.( Mark 5:25-34; Matt 9:18-26; Luke 8:40-56)It has never been my favorite of the healing accounts, but it surely is often in my mind now, both in her suffering and in her experience with her physicians. I know that in various low times in my life, particular accounts of healing in scripture have taken ahold of my heart/soul in a truly affecting way. As great as my current need of physical healing feels, I know that the health of my soul is what will sustain me in these times and the days ahead. I also know that it is in these pressing times I repent sorely of wasted hours wherein I could have been seeking my souls good. All I can do now is of course, with God's help, beseech the spirit to quicken me so that I improve what time I have yet. I know that God has always been merciful to me despite my failings and sins but I do not want to sinfully presume, so I hope and pray.

25And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,

26And had suffered many things of many ph ysicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,

27When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.

28For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

29And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

30And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

31And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

32And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.

33But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.

34And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

mt 5:25-34 KJV

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ramblings or I could be anemic

Nope, I've nae written a thing for quite a while, still physically "not right" and watchfully waiting as well as collecting names of Doctor's in the event I stop waiting.(Ok, things got bad enough by the end of this writing that I am going to call for an appointment ASAP)

I've not left the house in over 9 days, barely left the bedroom, so don't blame me for playing the "what city are you quiz" (see below) sounds right lovely about now, but it is one of those things that the being physically out of sorts reminds me is beyond my ken at the moment. I've had lots of time to pray. I'd like to say I've read a lot but other than reading more than I want to know about all sorts of "woman's medical issues" not so much.

Without wellness for much else this week, the web got an occasional glance, blogs have been read. I did manage to locate and look at, a web page about the girl I considered to be my best friend in 6th grade I'll call her L-G. (I can't recall if she breezed into town for only 6th or if she was also there for 5th, possibly.) This is the girl who was and had everything I thought I would like to to have and to be. She had glossy stick straight chestnut brown hair (with auburn flecks that glinted in the sunlight.) She was everything I was not, or so it seemed.

We were friends only a short time as she moved away after 6th grade. I don't know if I appeared to her as an equal friend or if my feeling less than and glad to be in her "light" was obvious to her then, as it is to me now. For some reason or another we hung out together after school, likely because children were scarce in the well to do neighborhood our parents had each bought into. (She did have one other friend, a neighbor girl who wasn't allowed to play with me for reasons I don't know and didn't understand. The stories that came out of the other girls house over the years make me thankful now that such was the case.)

I'd have said she had dark steady brown eyes, but perhaps they were even green, a rare and fascinating color. She had a retainer and reading glasses (hardly exotic but L-G had them so she bestowed upon them desirability.) She had freckles. She had two first names, hyphenated and both used. She had a petite southern mother, who spoke to her openly and calmly, about growing up and "becoming a woman" thereby letting Laura-G into some secret society of maturity. (I had a 57 year old mother who left me to read about the curse on the back of a Kotex box, although thanks to a book about "Susie's babies" I could tell you all about hampster reproduction, what every 11 year old needs to know.)

Her mother WAS southern womanhood at it's finest, she was at the very least "The Junior League" (Could there have been snobbery running in the veins of a true southern woman? I think there could have been,though perhaps it was just me. I felt a tad like a border state clod of unpedigree'd dirt around her mother but was tolerated, if just. It was the closest I've ever come to thinking that the USA does have a class system.) Sure we both had Madame Alexander dolls LG had the stately 21 inch Scarlet O'Hara and the Bride doll, I had 12 inch Heidi and Alice and Wonderland (picked by my mother who thought I should like dolls.)

If the dolls were foreshadowing I was destined for Rabbit holes, running late and goats, she was destined for Green Velvet, horses and a turnip free life. (I note with gladness that Mother didn't buy me the Marie Antoinette doll.)

Unexpectedly but not unpredictably, after 32 years of parted ways, L-G's photograph reveals that she looks every bit as "posh" as I recall and appears all the more to have "done with her life" on paper, what I'd want on paper about my own self.(I don't kid myself, anyone's life can appear desirable in print but this is L-G her life WILL be at least appear to be posh, even up close.) She is still shiney haired, appears effortlessly trendsettingly thin, has two lovely children, has received many awards for her Poetry, is an associate professor of English at a reasonably prestigious women's college, earned a master's of fine arts at an exclusive writers program, and credits mentors in her early days as a writer. (I on the other hand had math tutors, those are not mentors trust me.) To be fair I did have several teachers and adults who told me, indeed insisted that I write, even WRITE!!! but mentors they were not. I was sure the adults were only suggesting writing in fervent hopes I'd shut up and go away, not because they saw any instrinsic ability. The literary version of "go play in the traffic."

All the mentors in the world cannot give one talent, discipline, drive. It would have taken far more than a mentor to subdue the lifetime of self loathing which forms the corpus of my inner critic. No mentor could have swept aside all the conflict I have felt over the proper place of writing for a Christian wife and mother. Oh and then, even if the time arrives when writing could occur, there is always laziness and fatigue to deal with. Overcoming that, as soon as pencil and paper are in hand, the inner critic returns, revived and suntanned, presumably from a coffee break on the French Riviera, all while I was trying hard to get ducks in a row so that I could return to writing. If I "work at writing" he works too.

Back to dissecting envy and comparisons. Yes, one can read between the lines of my childhood confidante's angst ridden poetry and say, hey, perhaps she felt as inadequate on the inside as I was sure to be skin to core. Yes, a painful divorce is noted on her bio. No there is no evidence of her being a woman of faith, much less one who finds her entire being in Christ.(In Annapolis, they attended "The Historic St. Anne's Episcopal Church," a church that held more mystique and poshness in it's every dust mote than my Lutefisk loving, stodgy, solid and equally spiritually dead, Lutheran church could hold in it's modern brick edifice )So where does this leave me with my reflection of 44 years, none of which are degreed, none of which published in posh literary journals, only half of them thin, and never fashionably so.

Do I have a green eyed monster? I suppose that depends on what one looks like. I certainly am happy for my friend and wish her all the best, that being primarily a life of unsearchable riches found in Christ. She is talented and has used that talent to reach goals that likely she set and worked hard for. If it is envy to feel the passage of years, to wonder about how one has spent one's days, to consider how much of who we are is already bound and established even at 11, how little we change, how opportunities and people shape who we are today, and yes to feel a twinge of the lie "life would be o so much sweeter if you were thin, had an mfa, professorship and glossy brown hair" as I swat said twinge away, then ok, it's envy.

That said, I am a rabid providentialist (oft accused of being a fatalist by those who are uninitiated into the whole God's over-ruling man's responsiblity parallel.)If I were envious and discontented it would be a sin to be repented of, God has appointed my days.(As poorly as I feel it is understandable that I wonder if those days are shorter than I'd expected though what would lead any of us to think they are longer than the next breath does boggle the mind.) Yes I have to confess where I've have not lived up to my potential, including the potential to clean bathrooms and make beds, the potential to share the gospel, to redeem the time, to listen rather than be heard, to pray for others, and yes, possibly to write as well. If I envy vs reflect, I would be expressing ungratitude and anger toward God, not toward the ever blamed "circumstances" or "lack of opportunity." I can only be tremendously, failingly thankful to God for everything, EVERYTHING such that to list one item seems to demean the magnitude of the whole. The unlistable everything, or at the very least the list that would begin and rightly never end for the praises that rightly belong there. Supposing that is what eternity is for.

Everything God wants for me is and will be in my life for His glory and my good. To my shame there are ugly ragged marks of sinful decisions and failures, to God's glory, I'm still standing albeit figuratively at the moment. To God's glory and mercy I don't have what I deserve, that being a confirmed reservation in Hell for eternity, or the consequences of every sin I've ever done etched on my face for the world to witness. We are all spared as well, the consequences of other's sin to a great extent, by the merciful restraining hand of a God who orders our world. These are all unfathomable unmerited mercies. So why in the world would I be pensive reading the biography of my friends' successes?(Soul meets flesh; has a tussle?Desire meets reality:ouch.)

The camera, the scale, the literary journals do not measure nor reward as God does, nor see as God does, and by this I don't suggest how "bad" L-G would look in the eyes of God (I have no knowledge of the state of her soul in any direction) rather the fearful reality of how bad I look against a holy measure. If I value success as scripture presents it, righteousness, servanthood, love, prayerfulness, humility to name just a few, how will that affect my days?

Something to ponder as I lay here realizing how many years of discipline and effort it takes to achieve success in anything, and how the lessons can be learned too late, if ever. I've never wanted to climb Everest, but it would be really pathetic if I decided it was the culmination of my life's dreams in the last week of life. Such reflection makes me incredibly glad my souls redemption was not left to me. If I can't even achieve what can humanly be done in this life with any enviable measure of success, how would I ever have done right by my soul?

I've seen enough of the shortness of life to wonder if I ought to be much more serious about doing and saying today anything I'd not want to leave undone. I'm also old enough to know how very insignificant I am,such that there is nothing I could leave done or undone, that would barely be noticed. I know that though I could be a means to various wee things (encouragement, humor, blessing) in the lives of others (with of course the attendant and ever present likelihood that I'll also be annoying, frustrating and selfish.) I rejoice that nothing other's need, will be left off or undone if I'm not here because it is God who wills and does for all those I love, not me.

Yes I do desire years of life with dh and dd and those I love (though selfishly speaking heaven looks really better) but I'm not irreplaceable and when I am gone, unless I turn out to be Shakespeare or Queen Elizabeth, my passing will fill over like sand and water fill a footprint on the beach, writing or no.

After I visited my old friend courtesy of the web, I did something I do a few times a year often with increasing frequency toward her birthday,I checked the adoption reunion boards to see if there were any postings that would indicate my first born daughter Rachel (what I called her, no idea what she is called now) might be looking for her birthmother. If she is still alive she will turn 27 this April. I ran all the searches I could think of, and with each one, I felt that incredible sadness and frustration such searches can leave me feeling, concern for her, hopelessness, despair, shame, unworthiness, loss. At the very last I typed in "Rachel where are you?" but of course, the web doesn't answer back. I wondered if I were to die, would Rebecca, keep looking for her sister, would she know how, would it fit into her life to check occasionally? I wouldn't want Rachel to check the boards, find nothing and assume she is not remembered, not missed, not sought out. I cried and cried pressed up against the back of my dear bear like husband's toasty snoring self. But this/that is another story...

And on a lighter note....

You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique woman like you needs a city that offers everything.
No wonder you and London will get along so well.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

If I were a cuppa Joe...

Well dear ones, I'm sorry I've not at the blogstone lately. I did work on a piece this week but haven't been able get up enough zest to care about finishing it. I'm "hormonally" wacky

1.I'm either deep into peri-menopause which can last years (this one has my vote),

2.Have a horrible disease yet undiagnosed (oh I do hope not though it puts into perspective any discomfort of option 1) 30 something GP IS right "it's the change of geography you're way too young"(young is good.)

Regardless of what "it" is, Just staying on top what's happening this cycle, hot cheeks, crawling out of own skin, and migraines is a full time job.

Whatever "extra" energy I've got right now is going into enjoying a little quite time before our houseguest returns. (Andrew over from London, about 3 weeks total.)

I've managed to goof up on the leaf lace shawl I'm knitting enough times to think I need my head examined. Who tries lace knitting 9 mos after learning to knit? Who has "hormonal issues" including fuzzy brain and thinks lace work involving hundreds of stitches is a brilliant idea? That said it's a tad addictive and I am really enjoying it when I'm not hating it. By the final row there will be 400 plus stitches on the needle. (Note to self, buy/make more stitch markers.)

Will try to write a proper post soon (as if I know what that is?) Took the test I saw on another person's blog re; what kinda cuppa I would be if I were a cuppa, and it's no surprise to anyone surely I didn't come in as a plain cup of black coffee...that said I hate cappuccino's so perhaps that is revealing lots...(Give me a mocha anyday.), sorry I said no to your IM a few weeks ago, after I hit no, it occurred to me who you were, I didn't recognize your aim screen bad.

You Are a Cappuccino

You're fun, outgoing, and you love to try anything new.

However, you tend to have strong opinions on what you like.

You are a total girly girly at heart - and prefer your coffee with good conversation.

You're the type that seems complex to outsiders, but in reality, you are easy to please

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Original is good?

I sent the very first scarf I made to dear Seonag. It was made with a yarn called Squiggle, (see brim to left for an idea of what squiggle looks like) as well as a yarn called Cork.

I told S. it was wild, and as an added touch I tied in two glass heart beads in the bottom fringe. I don't really expect her to wear it, not to church at least (-: When my knitting improves, if I live long enough, and if I get the baby blanket I started for one RJH, before said child marries, then I shall perhaps make S a proper scarf. I figure since S is a accomplished Hebridean lassie, who has knitted for donkey's years, that she can always make herself a "proper" scarf, but only her dear China would send her a wild and funky one...

Note to S herself, aren't ya glad, looking at above picture, I didn't choose this hat instead? They say be careful what ya wish for, and you said it could be WILD! You don't have to wear the thing, just look at it and know that it was knitted with love by your dear friend from the states, now you see why I couldnae get a Scot to marry me? (that said, the yarn your scarf is made from is a Sassenach company (Non-gaels, read "English") which explains a lot, especially the lack of Presbyterian influence down south.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Update on Seonag

Dear Friends, I haven't been able to update you all on Seonag yet for various reasons. She did come through her surgury but it was far more of an ordeal than expected. mrs dkmiller, if you still have my e-addy would you write me so I have your most current address and I shall send you an offline update. use sbnyeuk addy I had in the uk please as my msn is down. Thanks. Will write otherwise soon. At the mo I'm off to take hubby to a minor emergency center.

Monday, January 30, 2006

China Plate

Cockney Rhyming slang for mate (as in bud, friend, joined at the hip, pal) is it dinner or China. One's best friend, like one's best plate, is China. Seonag (pronounced like Shawnack for the uninitiated) introduced me via video to a Glaswegian comedy team by the name of Francie and Josie. Though the accent was thick the humour was clear and classic. Though I have many dear friends in Glasgow, there is only one I call China, and that's her.

For those who don't know, one of the first of the many kind folk who welcomed me into their lives in Scotland was Seonag. She is woven in and out of nearly every memory I have of Scotland. I could fill a book with just our adventures, from the building my first peat fire in the Hebrides, to flat flits, to chickpeas on the stairs. (you just had to be there.) One of my most cherished one's is sitting atop black hill, being devoured by midges and singing Psalm 62 to the tune "Bay's of Harris".

Today I had to dash home from morning worship due to a tricky tum. I went straight to a heating pad on my bed, just wanting to feel better. Next thing I knew it was nearly 4pm our time. I'd wanted to call S. before she went to hospital for liver surgery but it was then 11pm her time and though she is always a night owl, the night before a hospitalization I had hopes she was away to her bed. my heart sank until I realized that being a nightowl myself , all was not lost.

I've been sitting up now waiting for nearly 2 am our time. If I call too early, the sleep she so needs to prepare for her surgery could be cut short, if I wait too long, I'll miss her. I'd said in past e-notes I'd call and pray with her before she went. Thankfully, I broke down and called at 1:45 am/8:45 am her time, and she was there, just biding her time to call the hospital to see if they have a bed for her. This is apparently standard procedure with NHS. (National health Service) Tomorrow some surgeon is scheduled to operate in order to reduce the tumor in her liver, what remains after weeks and weeks of chemo.

This past fortnight, She and her husband were able to go north and spend a couple lovely weeks with her delightful and large extended family, most of whom I have met, several of whom I have laughed till I cried with. I praise God she and they had health and vigour to visit with each other. Knowing the highlands and Islands rich heritage in piety, knowing the faith her father (age 90) and mother (on to Glory) have had, I don't doubt her family in heaven is also large in number. I pray that continues so for generations yet unborn.

She told me a plaque behind her toaster reminded her yet again that there is nothing in this day she cannot face with God. She sounded as confident of that as ever. Her spirits are settled I think and that was good to hear. It is an amazing thing to consider that those of us who are siblings in Christ, will never ever suffer loss, not of riches in Christ, not of eternity and not of each other. I rang off having every confidence that Seonag and I have a solid future together as China's, as "Charaid" (Gaelic for friend) as daughters of the King, girls in Glory and it matters only a little who gets there first, and when.

That said, I know that so many count on her love and care (she is the best living example of selfless Christian service that I know), and for their sakes, and my own selfish desires to have her fellowship in this life for years to come, if you think to pray for her, I know that they and I appreciate it. The world is richer with her in it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lucy at home...

This looks just like our cozy fireside. Ok, could look like it if she had pjs on, was fighting a wee migraine, and wasn't knitting at the mo. And no our house isn't that neat, nor our carpet that patterned.

We are all sort of in "watch and wait" mode here. Hubby has gotten lots of work done this week on sermons, I've faithfully hacked away at my lace knitting home work and ark boy, well he's what we're watching. For those of you who don't know, you really don't want to know. It looks like Arkboy has Rotavirus. Nuff said. Poor dear, no one really wants to hang with him, "Lucy" feels distressed and cruel to want to keep him off the plum Laura Ashley Sofa she brought back with her from Scotland, but stewardship is stewardship. He's generally feeling ok between bouts, which have no warning system, but for cautions sake we are not feeling too badly letting him veg on lots of old cowboy dvd's up in his room. Pray he's better soon if you will.

I've possibly OVeR-knitted, i.e if I keep up doing things I'm not so great at I could burn out. I've been trying to do little swatches of lace patterns and am having only moderate success. I find I often pray when I knit, (sometimes about the knitting itself...eek) so at least the time is fruitful even if the stitches are, well, not "quite right"...

On a knitting note, I have not been a fan of Eleanor Roosevelt for various reasons, but I'll watch a pbs show about just about any historical figure just for the sake of the historical setting and piecing together a more complete timeline of the past. I read once, (no idea where) that one should make a point of reading news about topics that one has no natural inclination toward, so I suppose the Eleanor thing could fall under that category. (I had written way more on this front but somehow lost it when putting pics in. When will I learn to write in Wordpad as the Blogging genius tells me?) Suffice it to say, Eleanor knitted a lot, perhaps it was mainly to back up her endorsement of knitting for the troops, perhaps she truly enjoyed it, no idea. The migraine has grown so I'm away...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

No Place like home?

Today I turned 44. Boom. I've been given this many years by a gracious God. His hand has been upon my every turn and his mercies have been truly new every morning.

So, what's this "no place like home business?" And who really wants to hear about where I am "at" anyway?

Well perhaps the way I feel today is something everyone feels at 44, or after a lot of life changes in a short space of time...perhaps it is as much part and parcel for the pastor's family as it is to those in the military.

Two of the nice ladies in our church (and we have many kind sisters there) came by for a visit with yummy food and cake. One regular visitor sent a lovely B-day card. (how'd she know?) One of my daughter's in law sent a fun/funky card which arrived today which touched my heart, I really love my second daughters!... my own daughter called from her in laws in Texas to wish her mum a happy day. my dear friend and former maid of honor from Northern Ireland sent her love and prayers...A Dear "old" friend in Crabtown called as well. I don't think I've had so many folk recall the day in years.

And yet I feel like Dorothy of "no place like home" fame. I don't feel homesick often because I don't really know what home is anymore
in the traditional sense of the word. I looked at a dictionary online and found it sterile. Their definitions were way too temporal dwelling based for me.

If home is where the heart is, then I am parceled out all over the world, like so many pieces of day old wedding cake, gone in every direction once the party is over. I've got a fair bit in heaven, (what my dense clay pot self can perceive of that reality beyond imagination) I've got a pretty sizeable chunk with my daughter, a very big and steady (and pleasantly comfy cozy too) chunk with "the man." I put her first in the list because she's had longer to grow her piece, but his is of course the hot house nursery of my current chunk. He's my hero and tries to guard my heart and fills it up in many ways with his kind affections, service and love. He is the cupbearer to my hand-maid.

I have a number fondly recollactions of sweet fellowship of the heart with those who feel to me like friends of the soul , those who share my passionate love of simple pure worship (or the closest as sinners will be able to have in this life), ornamented only with the faithful preaching, the sacraments and obedient offerings of the saints in worship. I have that sense of home with those folk, who yes, reside largely in the UK but also inthe states, scattered here and there like outposts on some underground railway of the saints, where the harps do not hang upon a tree and the songs of Zion are loved.

There is another friendship of the soul with the sisters and brothers in the saints who express such hunger and thirst for the Word of God, for godly living, for sharing the gospel with the world they inhabit, who long to exhibit compassion toward the lost, hungry and imprisoned, the hurting. I see people here, new friends, who without fanfair, take it upon themselves to visit the shut in, to lend practical aid, I see others who take on the causes of the wounded and less fortunate out of love for Christ. These souls I deeply desire to know better, to praise God together with, to approach his throne together for the causes around us.

Then there are the new slices of heart which are being cut and handed over, perhaps clumsily, like wedding cake in an undersized napkin, bits of crumb falling to the floor, icing sticking on the top, given to the people God has placed in our lives here, who seek the Lord beside us, who are like so many pilgrims trying to make their way back home, in fits and starts, glad to be a rag tag few, glad to have the word and each other. These parcels of heart, are definite, but not yet rooted, not yet given the entrenchment that I am now perhaps too painfully aware, takes time, years of time. As one who has always made friends and connections easily, today I don't think I ever appreciated how much time goes into the knitting of friendships. I felt teary when I hung up the phone with a friend who knows me as well as anyone in the world, and later with a daughter who knows me even better.

It takes time to build memories with folk, to have shared hours, stolen though they may feel from lives that seem all too urgent, where we grown in enjoyment and knowledge of each other. I bless God for the hearts that have been given to me here, those folk who have shared their concerns, their burdens, their disappointments and joy. I am pretty sure having prayer concerns for others knits us together extra fast . From our first visit out here when interviewing, the new folk felt like "ours," we went home with them in our hearts and on our lips before the throne of grace.We've had so many provisions here and kindnesses. God has done it, people have done it. I pray he enables this hermits heart, to be willing to have the amount of "people time"needed to build on these buds of grace. "Behold how they love one another"

(An aside here to those dear "friends" who have shared years of net/e- mail encouragement back and forth, you know who you are, you all have at times been the cake and the napkin holding it together when there were huge changes and no one nearby to call friend, you have been much used of God and instruments of mercy!)

New friends, Please don't mind the wee tear that longs for the "old familiar" it's not like I can go "home again." This is home, Dh is home, the warm bed, the favorite spot, the old bible, all the"home I's got" is right here....Back East, my parents are dead and gone, the family homestead sold,my daughter is wed and Bessie the cow is out to pasture.
The new friends have been unbelievably kind.

Each month here, has brought conversations, phone calls, cups of coffee with the saints in situ, and each one of those, has been a stone in the "new house, a potted herb on the sill, a throw for the sofa," the people feather our nest and give me hope that one day I'll be tearing up, for these sisters and brothers, if our days end in yet another place between here and glory.
So thanks folks, near and far, for being a refuge to the "homeless" wanderer...and forgive me for feeling my age...and rambling in my old familiar way.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Improved Outlook....

Well, not THIS improved, but measurably so.
Whilst I was Googling for an image showing improvement, I found this picture, and the website to go with it.

It is for a 4000 square foot rental property in British Anquilla. It is of course beyond my means to rent, even in the low season, even if I knew where it was and how long it would take to fly belief in the joy of armchair travel is slightly taxed with this one, but I console myself with the secure knowledge that

1. Heaven is better.

2. The God who created this scene has mercifully provided for my soul to be, at glorification more blissful than this spot looks, metaphorically speaking.

3. I just know that even if we traveled to this spot, it would have some type of impending typhoon, nasty insects, noisy neighbours or we'd ruin it (i.e wherever you go there you are?) That said, it could be Brilliant and enjoying such a spot, and graciously saying goodbye to such a spot (The Lord giveth; The Lord taketh away blessed be the name of the Lord!) would be an exercise in being able to abound.

For the Armchair traveler:
BlissVilla Be sure to visit the virtual tour and click on the master bedroom and bathroom pictures. (you click on the room layout if I recall correctly.)

Anyway, this is a long way to say, thanks for the notes and prayers. Lucy is recovered.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My Emotional Doppleganger

I thought it would take take a long while to find an image to capture how I feel as I sit down to write a long overdue line to my kind readers. To my surprise I came up with this one in short order. I find the wee thing does such a good job of expressing my mood that I wonder if I should have an artist do a rendering of him, he could stand in for me at social events.(Are Gargoyles gendered?)

Go figure that aside from the (see photo) way I feel right now, I also know
that I have blessings beyond counting and there is NO excuse for feeling like (see photo.) Bleak midwinter, anti-climax of a holiday I don't actually "celebrate," 44 being days away? a three day migraine (only a 4-7 on scale of 1-10,) having a houseguest? nothing feels right, not comfort food (my rendition of my mother's spaghetti with meat sauce), not retail therapy , not hot showers or good coffee. (Ok. I admit I have found about 20 seconds of bliss....twice this week I've ordered the smallest Starbucks hot cocoa with extra whipped and red sugar has to immediately remove lid and sip shallowly so as to redeem the cream before it dissolves, whilst not getting burned lips, but for what it is worth, if one has been out shopping in cold rainy weather, it's a mo of ahhhh.)

It is good, I suppose to have things not satisfy one. I have found that I pray more, or at least desire to pray more of late. Then again as I write this I think, how horrible that one has to be at out of pleasures before the soul's best longings kick in. Perhaps I have it backwards, perhaps the things are not satisfying because my soul is more keen and will "accept no substitutes?" I've long noticed that the best sign in my life for an improved spiritual apprehension, is to be desiring the sweet fellowship of prayer. I hope this is no exception.

This is the first time in my life I've had very little desire to write, I've loved writing and felt the words fighting to see the light of day for as long as I can remember, right now, I'm with the gargoyle. For the dear few who check this space, I shall try to do better, whatever that means. Thanks for staying with.