Monday, November 27, 2006

Unwrapping His Gifts

"Mary....sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word." Luke 10:34

In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me." Matthew 26:55

Sitting quietly at the feet of the teacher Jesus seems so innocuous and passive. But it is startling to trace the subsequent, radical actions of those who sat in that place.

Mary of Bethany was moved to profound love; eventually that love brought her to the point of pouring her costly alabaster flask of ointment out on His feet.

The multitudes, on the other hand, were moved to violent action. They came as a mob to arrest Jesus, bringing clubs and swords against the gentle teacher.

Why such radically opposite responses to the words of Jesus?

Because the inner ear must be opened before His words can be perceived and understood.

Often, Jesus sought to awaken that "inner ear" in His listeners. Thus the warning, "Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears do you not hear?" Mark 8:17-18

What was it that Jesus wanted so badly for His listeners to comprehend?

The realities of the unseen spiritual world. The things freely given us by God that are for a season veiled to our senses.
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9

The Apostle Paul also spoke of these unseen realities. He said "we speak wisdom among those who are mature...we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory..." 1 Corinthians 2:6-7
Those who are mature are like Mary of Bethany, who fixed her inner eye on Jesus and trained her inner ear to listen to His voice.

Like Christmas gifts waiting to be unwrapped, God has prepared wonderful things for those who love Him. But they cannot be apprehended by the mere physical act of hearing or seeing. "God has revealed them to us through His Spirit." 1 Cor. 2:10

What are these freely given gifts that God has prepared for us?
Scripture tells us that the following things have been prepared for the believer:
~a table set before us in the presence of our enemies
~a place, a mansion for our future habitation
~a city
~good works prepared in advance for us to do

A.W. Tozer once said, "The mind can grasp the shell, but only the Spirit of God can lay hold of the internal essence."

Although I KNOW there is a table prepared for me, only my sanctified imagination can begin to picture it. All of the bounty laid out on my earthly table reminds me of this promise.

He has assured me that He has prepared a mansion for me, and all of the lovely houses on earth that I admire and long to live in stimulate a deeper longing for my true, eternal home.

I begin to see in all of life shadows of eternal glories.

Quoting again from Tozer, "The value of the cleansed imagination lies in its power to perceive in natural things shadows of things spiritual."

This season, as I cast my eyes once again on the glittering sights and sounds of Christmas, I'll be unwrapping His gifts. I can almost hear Him whisper, "If you think this sparkles, wait till you see what I have prepared for you up here!"

Happy unwrapping!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Christmas Joy

Heidi Joy's concert was just the thing to start the Christmas season. What a voice! A petite 5'4", she can alternately soothe or soar with great versatility. Her music has a spiritual depth that comes from obvious, heartfelt faith.

Heidi is becoming a household name in the Midwest. Her new Christmas CD is to be released December 8th~~check it out here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


anomaly |əˈnäməlē| noun ~ something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected. Something different, abnormal, peculiar, or not easily classified.

This unusual potato was good for a few laughs. Artiste could not resist drawing a face on it. Humor is sometimes find in the most unexpected places!

Art and Eternal Glories

"Learn to look; compare what is before you with your familiar or secret ideas....Let a gallery or a museum show you something more than a collection of objects, let it show you schools of art and of life, conceptions of destiny and of nature, successive or varied tendencies of technique, of inspiration, of feeling...."
"If you cannot think thus, you will become or be, a man of only commonplace mind. A thinker is like a filter, in which truths as they pass through leave their best substance behind."
from the book, The Intellectual Life

Although I have had a membership to our local art museum for several years, it is only recently that I have gone beyond
in a superficial way. This year, two of my daughters are taking art lessons at the museum. While they are engaged with lessons, I have the luxury of perusing the gallery for one and a half hours each week.
To view great works of art on a regular basis means that you become more intimately acquainted with them. Every week I see details that I did not notice on previous visits. I am, I think, beginning to absorb a little more understanding of technique and schools of thought.
Often, I have the added pleasure of bringing a lady friend with me as a guest on these museum visits. This adds another layer of pleasure: listening to the perceptions and observations of others. This always brings a fresh perspective to me.

Here is a picture of one of the flashier items in the museum's permanent collection, a Chihuly glass sculpture. As I view the sunlight playing on the colored glass, it makes me think of heavenly glories: "Her light was like a most precious stone, like jasper stone, clear as crystal." Revelation 21:11 "And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass." Revelation 21:21
The beauty we now enjoy is but a shadow of the better things to come. How wonderful that God gives us the ability to train the inner eye to see beyond the natural, to see glimpses of eternal delights.
Credit for the picture goes to my friend,smilingrrt, who is much better with a camera than I am!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Anna has inspired me to dust off my sewing machine, which has had a long season of hibernation in the basement. I happened upon this soft flannel fabric for only one dollar a yard, and thought it the perfect thing for snugly winter pajamas. Using Anna's tips for a budding seamstress, I guided my 10 year old daughter in sewing a few of the straight seams, and then zig- zagging to finish them. This gave her some experience in using the sewing machine, as well as a share in the satisfaction of a nicely finished garment.

So much of my work as a mother and pastor's wife involves that which is intangible: sowing eternal truth into living souls. In contrast, a sewing project yields an immediate, concrete reward. It is good for the soul, don't you agree?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Loveliness and Door Knockers

"Loveliness does more than destroy ugliness. A mere touch of it in a room, in a street, even on a door knocker, is a spiritual force. Ask the workingman's wife, and she will tell you there is moral effect even in a clean tablecloth."
quote by Henry Drummond

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree is a mystical poem, by an unknown New England author, found in the collection Divine Hymns or Spiritual Songs by Joshua Smith of New Hampshire, dated 1784. The setting by Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987) is well-known and much loved as a Christmas carol. Poston's setting is in the key of C Major, without any accidentals, which gives it a very pure folk-song-like sound. This hymn was a favourite of Robert Runcie, the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury, and was sung at his funeral.

I first viewed this post on Dana's site~~thank you, Dana.
It correlated so nicely with my recent post about apples.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tools of the Trade~~Binding Books

In our homeschool, Poiema Academy, there are always messy ongoing projects: nature notebooks, history writings and pictures, art sketches, pages of handwritten poetry. At one time we used folders to try to keep everything organized, but nice work tends to get bent up in folders. A great little tool called a Proclick solved this problem for us. About the size of a 3 hole paper punch, it is portable and easy for little hands to use. It can punch holes in 6 sheets of paper at one time. Then you snap together the comb spines and you have a spiral book that looks very professional.I have found that the children take more pride in their work when it is nicely displayed in book form. They give thought to designing the cover and the title page. It is easy to add on to and comes with a little tool that unzips the spine when pages need to be inserted.You can buy spines that hold up to 45 pages, and larger ones that will accomodate 85 pages. Proclick is available at Staples for about $66.

Explosively Crisp

I'm talking about Honey Crisp apples. Have you tried them? These are a newer variety, developed in 1991 and fast becoming a favorite in our family. The texture is its biggest asset~ never mealy or mushy. The red delicious apples I bought at the orchard are shriveling up in the refrigerator bin because the Honey Crisps are so much better!
My children have become apple snobs. When I offer to cut an apple into wedges for their snack, they ask suspiciously, "Will it be a Honey Crisp?"

The cost is a little higher, the season is short and almost over, but hey~ I am a midwestern girl and I like buying a midwestern apple. No need to buy a Japanese Fuji or a New Zealand Gala when we have the best right here.

Read about the development of the Honey Crisp apple

Check out this blogger's great description

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pink Smoothies

1 6oz. carton Yoplait Yogurt (We like White chocolate/strawberry, but any berry flavor will do).
4 oz. orange juice, cranberry juice, or sparkling water
3 or 4 large frozen strawberries
half of a large banana, frozen

Whir in the blender until velvety. Top with whipped cream. Makes 3 small smoothies (4 oz size).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Just Sittin'

"And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples." John 6:3

As creatures of modern life, most us have difficulty "just sittin'". It seems such a waste of time. Yet Jesus took the time to sit with His disciples; indeed He called them "to be with Him." We see that in doing so, He called them upward, to the mountain.

I am seeking to incorporate more time in our homeschool day for "just sittin'". The routine and the list of assignments to be done seems unrelenting. The whirlwind of activity makes the days slip by so quickly. As my children are entering their teen years, I want to consciously choose to sit with them, to laugh with them, and to enjoy them.

One small step I am taking toward this end is to be consistent in taking short breaks during the day, and to give some thought to incorporating beauty into this ritual. Here is a short list of my efforts, which will hopefully serve to stimulate more ideas:

~pretty little smoothies (4 oz.), an hour before lunch, served in pink goblets with a puff of whipped cream on top.

~making myself look attractive and smell good. I decided to stop saving my favorite perfume for special occasions and to wear it every day.

~asking the kids to join me for a mug of hot chocolate in the afternoons while I have my cup of coffee. Playing soft music in the background quietly for 10 minutes while we sit and sip.

~on a nice day, take a the whole gang on a short walk around the block.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Lady's Loaf

Here is my most-used recipe for the bread machine. It takes 4 minutes to stir together. The only drawback to the bread machine is that the crust is never fully to my satisfaction. But for me, the time savings outweighs this small disadvantage. This is a light wheat bread.

1 cup warm water
11/2 T. non fat dry milk
1/2 T. salt
3 T. sugar
1 T. oil
1 c. Gold Medal Better for Bread wheat flour
2 c. Gold Medal Better for Bread white flour
11/2 T.bread machine yeast

Place everything in bread machine in the order listed. Use the "basic" or "sweet" setting and set for light crust.

The Office and Duty of a Lady

Quote from John Ruskin:
"I would have them desire and claim the title of "lady" provided they claim not merely the title, but the office and duty signified by it. "Lady" means "bread-giver" or "loaf-giver," and "lord" means "maintainer of laws"; and both titles have reference, not to the law which is maintained in the house, nor to the bread which is given to the household, but to law maintained for the multitude, and true bread broken among the multitude.So that a Lord has legal claim only to his title in so far as he is the maintainer of the justice of the Lord of lords; and a Lady has legal claim to her title only so far as she communicates that help to the poor representatives of her Master, which women once, ministering to Him of their substance, were permitted to extend to that Master Himself; and when she is known, as He Himself once was, in breaking of bread."
~~from the book Sesame and Lilies

I remember the exhaustion I felt after giving birth to my first child. A dear Lady, who deserved that title, brought me a piping-hot, fresh loaf of bread. It was such a comfort.

That small act of kindness stimulated me to distribute loaves. I enjoy bringing a loaf with me to church and giving it to the person who seems most in need of a little boost. I bring a loaf to the hairdresser every time I see her. It has become my standard offering as a housewarming gift and to new mothers. At holiday season, a homely loaf of bread is appreciated as much or more than a plate of sweets.

I love the end of Ruskin's quote, "...she is known, as He Himself once was, in breaking of bread." The willingness to feed the lambs is the mark of a Lady and manifests the true character of Christ, the Bread of Life.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Book Review: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

The subtitle of this book tells its gist:
"The life story of Jayber Crow, Barber, of the Port William membership, as Written by Himself."

One would not imagine a simple barber from a tiny, rural hamlet in Kentucky to be literate, contemplative, or spiritually complex. Jayber Crow embodies all of these qualities and more.

The deep human need for community is woven through the narrative, and the reader becomes acquainted with the individual threads: Cecelia Overhold, the town snoot; Athey Keith, the last of the prosperous old-school farmers; Troy Chatham, the up and coming, cocky corporate farmer;Mattie Chatham, the steady and strong farmer's wife.

If you have read Jan Karon's books, the Mitford characters are light weight in comparison to the richly developed personalities of the citizens of Port William Membership.

At another level, the author draws you in to the love of the land and has an obvious deep connection to nature that goes way beyond any fashionable brand of ecology.

One finishes the book with an aching longing to recapture the deep sense of community that has been lost in our urban society.

It is not often one reads a book of lyric beauty. This one is a gem.

Midlands Painter: Keith Jacobshagen

"Elsewhere, the sky is the roof of the world, but here the earth was the floor of the sky." Willa Cather, describing New Mexico

I live in Nebraska, the "elsewhere" of Cather's quote. Here the sky is the focal point of the landscape and its ever-changing glory earns its description as the "roof of the world."

Painter Keith Jacobshagen has mastered the nuances of light, the variety of cloud formations, the stunning array of colors, and the sheer vastness of the Nebraska sky.

Here is the Omaha World Herald's description of Keith Jacobshagen, dated July 9, 2006:
"Think of Jacobshagen as the Ted Kooser of Nebraska painters. Like the U.S. Poet laureate emeritus, he's a down-to-earth Midlands lover who could have been successful in bigger, busier places but stayed here to mine more subtle gems."

View some of his paintings here:

Friday, November 03, 2006


I love the word "poiema", a Greek word which is used in the following Bible passage:

"For we are His workmanship (poiema), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

Though I am not a Greek scholar, my research shows that "poiema" comes from an ancient Greek verb, POIEO, meaning "I create". As God's creation, His people are His poetry, His poiema, His crowning masterpiece.

This Poet-Creator reveals Himself as the "Word" in John 1:1:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

As I live out the poetry of my life, that inherent love of words (and especially THE WORD, scripture) is His signature mark~~ an evidence that I bear the image of my Creator.

I hope the words of this personal journal will be a blessing to all who read them.