Friday, December 4, 2020 Alluring Paths

My daughter and I used to play a game while driving on highways or county roads. We kept our eye out for certain types of side roads along the way that looked especially inviting. Sometimes it was a road leading uphill, beyond which you couldn’t see, but could imagine perhaps another world altogether being on the other side. Other times it might be a long curvy driveway that made us wonder if some sort of stately mansion lay at the end of it. Or maybe just a quaint little fairy-tale cottage. We both have rich imaginations, as you can tell. We never had time to turn aside to follow these paths, but then again, it wasn’t about going there. It was about the mystery, the yearning, and the possibilities.

I like to think that when death comes, it will be like the Lord beckoning me to follow one of those alluring paths, but this time to the world beyond, to see at last what has been just shrouded in mystery and yearning, to go at last to the place where all has been made new and right.

It makes me think of Gandalf’s wonderful encouragement to Pippin in “The Return of the King” movie before the battle in Gondor when all seems lost.

Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.

Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we must all take. The gray rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?

Gandalf: White shores, and beyond, far green country under a swift sunrise.

Pippin: Well, that isn’t so bad.

Gandalf: No. No it isn’t.

* * * * * *

One begins to understand why the book of Revelation ends with John saying “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I’ll probably delete this in the morning…

Thursday, December 3, 2020 Feathery Musings

Soft, fringed, extravagant plumes
For flight, for warmth, like colorful blooms,
For attracting just the right kind of mate,
And keeping one dry ’til the storms abate.
The shaft is the part that goes up the middle
The vane, like the teeth of a comb but less brittle.
A bird takes for granted in all kinds of weathers
The boon of having all kinds of feathers.
And when they fall off by the side of the road
The bird flies on, having lightened its load.
The wind picks them up and casts them adrift
The dry stalk holds them in a ballet lift
And there they stand, having done their duty –
Seemingly useless, still objects of beauty.

He will cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings, you will find refuge.
Psalm 91:4

I’ll probably delete this when the feather flies by itself, borne aloft on the morning breezes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 A Bookworm’s Tale

I pretty much hit the ground running when I learned how to read. I actually remember what it was like to have my parents read to me when the pages still looked like a lot of black marks on pages with pictures. It was a wondrous thing when I could read them myself. You could hardly keep me away from books at that point. I still remember reading The Little Lame Prince aloud to my mother when I was in the practicing phase of reading. And then sometime in 5th or 6th grade I read The Yearling by Rawlings – the first book that made me cry. I spent many a summer’s day inside, sprawled on a comfy chair, reading. My mom used to have to make me go outside and play.

I’m always vaguely shocked when I meet someone who doesn’t enjoy reading. When we started hiring babysitters for our children, one of our first regulars was an 8th grader named Tiffany. I drove her home one night and asked, conversationally, what books she liked to read.

“Oh,” she said, “I don’t read anything unless it’s assigned at school.” I nearly swerved off the road at this revelation.

“Well,” I said, not giving up, “what books have you been assigned in school that you enjoyed?”

“I don’t enjoy reading at all – I just do it because I have to,” was her reply.

“You mean you’ve never read for pleasure?” I asked, all astonishment.

“Nope.”

In vain, I gave her a few suggestions to get her started on the wonderful adventure of reading, but I could tell by her response that it was falling on deaf ears. It was a self-inflicted poverty that I couldn’t fathom.

As a young person I favored fiction books, but now as I’m getting older I often gravitate to non-fiction. Last year I decided to join the Goodreads Book Reading Challenge and set a goal of 100 books for the year. It was harder than I thought to achieve it, partly because listing all the books I read on a public site caused me to choose fewer “fluffy” books. I also set a challenge for myself to write a short review for each book. I’ve discovered that the older I get, the faster I forget what I’ve read, so I thought it would be a good idea to keep a record of what the book was about and whether or not I liked it.

I’m doing the Goodreads BRC again this year – 100 books – but I’ve fallen a little behind. With less than one month left to go, I’ve got 13 books still to read. Think I’ll make it? My husband likes to joke that I should grab a few Dr. Seuss books to get my numbers up quickly. Funny guy.

Here’s a stack that I’m working through right now:

The ancient looking one with all the tape on it is Pilgrim’s Progress, which I’m reading through with my daughter. The poetry book on the top The Temple is one that Kris and I are reading through together. I’d love to hear what books you’re reading right now. Maybe I can add them to my list for 2021!

Thanks for reading my meanderings about reading today.

I’ll probably just think about deleting this post in the morning.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 A Frog with a Cookie Name

Continuing on with my felt animal adventures, I introduce to you…(drum roll…) Mr. Fig Newton! The observant among you will notice that he’s not quite done. His arms and legs and hat are just pinned on so far – I’ll hopefully finish him tomorrow. Did I ever show you a photo of the critters I made from the second chapter of the book? I don’t think I did, so hold on whilst I look back through my photos to see if I have one.

This is “Evie and the Bear.” It seems odd to me that the creator of the pattern book went to the trouble of giving eclectic and interesting names to the rest of the animals, but Bear just gets the name “Bear.”

I started these for our granddaughter, but a wise friend told me that if I make a set for one family, I’ll need to make a set for every family as more grandchildren come into the picture. I’m here to tell you that I can only do these once. Fig Newton’s arms were so hard to turn out that it took me two days of repeated tries for just one of them. The second one was equally difficult and I ended up busting a little hole in the felt, which is still there. You’d have to look hard to see it, but it was so hard to do that I couldn’t face starting it all over again. I like to call these little mistakes “homespun charm.”

Anyway, these will now be part of Grandma’s toy box at our house, but I can hardly wait to have someone play with them. I might have to do my own playing until our granddaughter is old enough.

So much fun!!!!

I’ll probably finish Mr. Newton in the morning before deleting this.

Monday, November 30, 2020 Poetry Musings

Some of you may have noticed that I ended up taking a break last week. The combination of traveling and Thanksgiving week coalesced into a logjam of busy-ness that effectively shut the door to blogdom. All that is to say, I was too busy. And I hope that you were busy in that wonderful, blessed way, too.

I have a few books that I’m trying to finish before the end of the year, one of them being Devotions – selected poems of Mary Oliver. She has such a gifted way of stringing words together to create beautiful images. I read the poem “Some Herons” recently that contained these lines:

The water
was the kind of dark silk
that has silver lines
shot through it
when it is touched by the wind

The day after reading that, I walked by a pond and saw exactly what she was describing, but I never would have come up with the words.

And then I thought of the well-crafted poem of Alfred, Lord Tennyson called The Eagle:

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

The wrinkled sea…or in this case, the wrinkled pond.

Those descriptions really enhanced my ability to see the water with new eyes. This is the kind of poetry I can enjoy and understand.

Over the last couple of years I’ve made it my business to become acquainted with poetry and poets, having disregarded the whole genre for most of my life. I’ve read acclaimed and lauded poems that seemed like somebody reached their hand into a bowl of words and flung them on the page, for all the sense they made to me. But I am learning that reading poetry is sometimes work – you can’t give up after one reading. Sometimes it’s worth it to read again, to try to ferret out the meaning. And yet, I appreciate the poems that are immediately accessible to me, when the poet takes words that I know well and puts them together in wondrous ways that evoke a response of recognition.

It’s been an interesting journey. Tell me what poets and poems you love, so I can put them on my list!

I’ll probably delete this in the morning…

Friday, November 20, 2020 Dear Elisabeth…

Dear Elisabeth Elliot,

I first heard your name when a friend of mine, new in Christ, went to the Urbana Missions Conference in Illinois in 1981. I was not a Christian and was still hostile to the whole idea of faith in Christ. My friend Sara told me of hearing you speak about the different roles that men and women have according to how God has made them. She said you maintained that men need to take the initiative with women in relationships – women should not be asking men out or chasing them. When Sara said this, I was affronted. I was offended. My feminist soul cried out against this blatant sexism. But way down deep inside, so deep that I didn’t want to acknowledge it, my heart was relieved to hear these things. I had been living out my feminism by pursuing men, even one time by asking a guy out and then being strangely uninterested in a man who let me do the asking. I did not like this role – it felt unnatural to me – but it seemed to be a betrayal of what I believed to give way to these inner yearnings. You got my attention, Elisabeth. I tucked your name away for future reference.

A couple years later, I came to faith in Christ and early on came across your book Passion and Purity, which was now extremely relevant to me as a single woman who was still struggling with the vestiges of feminism. I don’t think I ever heard you speak in person, but I certainly heard recordings of your speeches and read more of your books: Let Me Be a Woman, Through Gates of Splendor, The Mark of A Man, The Journals of Jim Elliot… You became my spiritual mentor, as you have for so many over the years.

I got married to a wonderful godly man who knows how to lead and took the initiative with me. We started a family and I was drawn back again to your wisdom, your practical guidance, your wholehearted commitment to obeying Christ, and your dry sense of humor as I began listening (as I was able) to your radio show, Gateway to Joy. It would be hard to quantify the many times you spoke to me, encouraged me, corrected me and inspired me through your devotion to Christ and His Word. You helped me work through the difficulties of learning how to submit to my husband and taught me that “submission” wasn’t a dirty word. You told stories about your parents and then about your own experiences as a parent that showed me a better way with our children. You weren’t afraid to tell of your own shortcomings, and oh, what a comfort it was to me to know that prayer was difficult for you, too. I meant to tell you, to write to you about how much you’ve meant to me over the years. But I also knew that you received letters all the time as a public persona and it didn’t seem important to add mine to the mix. I read more of your books: Keep a Quiet Heart, Love Has a Price Tag, A Chance to Die (the Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael), Quest for Love, A Path Through Suffering…

We raised six children and the first wedding in our family was on June 14, 2015. The next day amid the busy-ness of the day after a big event, I learned that you had died and I realized that all along, I had still been planning to write you that letter. I, who never met you, still grieved your loss.

Recently, your granddaughter, in connection with the Elisabeth Elliot Foundation, starting releasing some of your talks on a podcast. It’s been like having my old mentor back! Thank you, Elisabeth, for telling the truth unflinchingly, whether it is popular or not. Thank you for your godly encouragement and example. Thank you for challenging me as a young feminist woman with your Biblical ideas that were so outrageous I listened in spite of myself. Thank you for urging men and women the world over to say a continual “yes” to God and then to rest in Him and trust that He does everything to make us more like Christ. Your wisdom, faith and courage are much needed today.

And now I say to you what you said at the beginning of every one of your radio shows: “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

I thank God for you and for your legacy of faithfulness.

Lynn

I’ll probably…but maybe not…delete this in the morning.

Thursday, November 19, 2020 Recipe for a Dream

All this time I’ve been writing blog posts and I haven’t done a recipe yet. I’ve pinned enough recipes on Pinterest to know how that goes. The typical recipe blogger gets very chatty about the whole thing and the next thing you know, you’re stuck reading about everything but the recipe. I”m a fairly chatty person myself, but that’s going to end right here.

Recipe for a Dream of Many Colors

Ingredients:

One kind and generous friend who gives you a bag of tulip bulbs. In my case, the friend is named Julie, but yours can come with any name.

One reasonably nice-ish day in November.

A place for planting. I have two barrels out front that will do the trick.

Extra dirt to put over the top.

A long winter, such as we have in Minnesota.

Instructions:

Place your bulbs in the dirt six inches deep or so, tips facing upwards. Cover with dirt.

Wait patiently.

Dream.

Yield:

Two barrels of bursting color and a heart full of gratitude.

You might want to print that out and keep it in your recipe book.

I’ll probably delete this after my dream of many colors comes true.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 Archer House Elegy

Archer House Elegy
You don’t mourn the loss of a building,
like you’d mourn the loss of a spouse.
But there was more than just brick and mortar
In the stately old Archer House.

‘Twas built in Northfield, Minnesota
When James Archer rode into town
A year after the Jesse James gang
Tried and failed to bring a bank down.

It sits by the swift Cannon River
And guests would come to retreat –
Looking out the arched dormer windows
O’er the shops on Division Street

The mansard roof was admired
By those who knew architecture.
Some people thought the inn haunted
But of course that was all conjecture.

Last week it went up in flames
There was shock, anger and tears
Oh, the Archer House has been ruined
After 143 years!


What a sad day for Northfield. I hope it gets rebuilt!

I’ll probably delete this in the morning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 Bowels do What?

Our neighbor texted me late in the afternoon asking me if I was noticing the sunset. First of all, it needs to be said that this is a very nice quality to have in a neighbor – one who not only notices sunsets, but who also makes sure I’m aware that something special is going on out there.

I took some photos and then decided that it might be fun to make an inspirational poster out one of them. I chose a phrase that I recently read in the book Pilgrim’s Progress that I found particularly…particular. You’ll see what I mean.

Isn’t that special? The world needs more decorative pillows embroidered with this kind of timeless sentiment.

My daughter and I are reading through Pilgrim’s Progress together and have enjoyed running across these strange little gems occasionally. Apparently bowels were considered the seat of pity, tenderness and courage. So in today’s parlance, it would read something like this:

It becomes us as Christians to be characterized by pity, tenderness and courage.

But that’s too long for an inspirational poster. I’ll just leave it the way it is.

Let me know if you start seeing this on coffee cups, posters and t-shirts because I started it and I want some form of credit for it. Ha ha!

Deletion of this post becometh the blogger.

P.S. I decided to use a different sunset photo for my poster, so it doesn’t look like the same sunset for a reason. It wasn’t.