Tuesday, January 25, 2022



Until recently I don't think the phrase "shelter-in-place" had much significance for me, but after more than two years of living through a pandemic it has become rather meaningful to most of us. Due to our age and health issues, my husband and I have been fairly isolated for what seems like a very long time. 

When I'm tempted to complain, that gentle whisper of the Spirit reminds me of God's faithfulness. While so many others have suffered great loss and heartache during this time, we have been held safely in His sheltering arms. I don't take it for granted. Through no merit of our own -we are blessed. 

I think about it as we drive past this little farm tucked safely in the shelter of these gently rolling tree-covered hills.  As we round the curve on our way to the Dam for our daily walk, I watch eagerly for a glimpse of the windmill and farm buildings peeking over the tops of the trees. This unassuming place  speaks peace and comfort to my soul - a picture of that hidden place where I am safely held by my Father, no matter the circumstances. 

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him."
Psalm 91: 1,2


Monday, January 24, 2022

Wonderfully Made

Just outside our windows the grey clouds hang low and heavy. A steady drizzle and chilly temperatures drive the cold right into one's bones. So I found a little bit of "sunshine" and brought it into our home. I am thankful God made flowers.


Just as with everything He has created, the Master Artist adds a touch of the miraculous to every flower. Tightly closed buds hold the potential for so much beauty - waiting until the time is right to unfold delicate pedals in a glorious burst of color and fragrance. 

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."  Psalm 139: 13-14




Sunday, January 23, 2022

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

 Helen Lemmel, the daughter of a Wesleyan Methodist minister, was born in England and moved with her family to America when she was twelve years old. They eventually settled in Wisconsin.

At an early age it became apparent that Helen was gifted musically. Her parents made it possible for her to take singing lessons from the best teachers, and when she was older she went to Germany to continue her studies.

When she returned to the United States she began her ministry - giving concerts in churches and auditoriums throughout the Midwest. She was talented enough to have become a professional singer but chose to use her gift to serve the Lord. Eventually she taught at Moody Bible Institute.

It was in 1918, when she was fifty-four years old that she wrote the hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." She was inspired by a statement in a tract written by Lilias Trotter:

“So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.”

She wrote about the profound affect these words had on her in her memoirs:

"Suddenly, as if commanded to stop and listen, I stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody. The verses were written the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but nonetheless dictated by the Holy Spirit."

This deeply inspirational hymn was published a few years later. It is only one of over 500 hymns Helen wrote. She also wrote poetry, music for children and a children's book entitled, "Story of the Bible."

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free!

Thro' death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion-
For more than conq'rors we are!

His word shall not fail you-He promised;
Believe him, and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Chorus: Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.


Friday, January 21, 2022

The Secret Things

  “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law."

Deut. 29:29

God has revealed wondrous things to us through His word and through the magnificent "voice" of His creation. He has, in fact, given us all we need. But, true to my nature, it is the "secret things" I long to know - those things He has chosen to keep hidden.

I ponder the tragedies and the poverty and the evil run rampant. I wonder why good people suffer and little ones die. I try to understand the ways and the mind of Him who is so far above me. Like Job, I long for answers - just a glimmer of something that will make it all make sense.

Heaven remains silent - the secret things hidden from view. I am reminded of my smallness and His greatness; my bent to sinning and His holiness; my weakness and His might. In the reminding He offers me this - His peace. It is not hidden or secret. It is there, waiting behind trust.


Monday, January 17, 2022

Don't Be Discouraged

The view from the other side of the Dam, the one opposite the shimmering lake, presents us with a very steep descent down to the road below. Signs warn pedestrians to keep off this nearly perpendicular hill. One can only imagine what it would be like to attempt to carefully walk down its face.

 In my mind's eye I can see myself carefully stepping over the warning curb and inching my way slowly and carefully down the hill only to find myself inexorably propelled, at an every increasing speed, toward certain calamity. Then I picture myself, with amazing physical prowess, plopping down on my butt and digging my heels into the hillside.

At this point I am confronted with two choices. I can either slide the rest of the way down on the seat of my pants, or begin the arduous climb back to the top of the Dam. Of course I realize, from my precarious position, that somewhere along the line I made a questionable (ok - stupid) decision. I have failed to be a law-abiding, conscientious adult. Will I give up in despair, slide down, slink away - or rise to the occasion and attempt the hard climb back up?

Reminds me a bit of life. It goes something like this. You make a decision you believe to be wise and good while at the same time difficult and challenging.You proceed to act on said decision only to fail in the most stupendous way. These decisions almost always have to do with spiritual things, although not necessarily, and when you fail you're prone to throw up your hands and say, "I can't do anything right, so what's the use of even trying. I'll just slide down on the seat of my pants and slink away.

I've learned, over the years, we have an enemy who takes great delight in watching our perceived, and very real, failures so that he can whisper words of discouragement into our hearts. Ruth Graham said, "Discouragement is the devil's calling card." Wise words from a very wise woman. We cannot let our failures keep us from doing the things we are called to do. They may be difficult things - things that will stretch us and test us - but we don't do them alone. 

I wonder if the Lord waits for us to make the choice to pick ourselves up and carry on so that He can grab ahold of our hands and pull us up.

"Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10



Friday, January 14, 2022

An Epilogue

I love the poetry of Wendell Berry and this one is a sweet epilogue to my last post:

 The Blue Robe

By Wendell Berry

"How joyful to be together, alone
as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know

each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness
of mortals, who know themselves:
how joyful to feel the heart quake

at the sight of a grandmother,
old friend in the morning light,
beautiful in her blue robe!"


Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Length of My Days

Tomorrow I will have been married for fifty-five years. A couple of months ago I celebrated my seventy-fifth birthday. We have ten precious grandchildren, thirteen counting the three equally precious ones who've married into the family, and this past summer these two little munchkins joyfully pirouetted into our lives making us great-grandparents.

  If you were to ask me if, when Steve and I first got married - or better still - when we dated in high school - I thought ahead to what milestones like these might mean, I would have to sheepishly admit I never gave it a thought. I dreamed of children, but I don't think I ever looked any further ahead than that. I simply took the days and years as they came.

Every January I look around me at the thoughtful women who look back on the past year with an eye to planning for the future and wonder what's wrong with me. I feel as though I have lived floating on a cloud somewhere far above my actual life. But recently something has changed. Standing midway into my seventh decade of life has had the affect of bringing this imaginative dreamer down to earth. 

It's hard to avoid the cliches when talking about such things, but I suppose that's because cliches are convenient vessels for carrying truth. Life, my life, has gone by more quickly than I could have possibly imagined. Exactly when did my children become old enough to marry and have children of their own? And how is it possible that we are great-grandparents? Such a beautiful, impossible truth. 

I no longer think in terms of a far off future. I have been graciously given my "three score and ten," and every new day has become a grace. When people speak in terms of twenty or thirty years from now, I acknowledge the likelihood that those things will not include me. 

Before this gets too maudlin, let me say what my heart longs to say: I am blessed. I have been given gifts beyond earthly measure. I have a God who wrote the story of my life long before I ever drew one breath. I believe Him when He says it's a good story. In this season of my life, I'm learning the depth of that truth. I don't have to worry about a thing. I can wake to each new morning with deep gratitude, joy and an absolute hope, a confident expectation, in a blessed future.

I may not be an astute planner, but I know what my future holds. However many years are left to me, I can look down the length of my days and know they stretch into eternity.