Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Prayer

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Hast Thou not bid us love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own - soul, heart, and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross - there teach my heart to cling.
Oh, let me seek Thee, and, oh, let me find.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sign;
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The baptism of the heaven descended Dove;
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

- George Croly

Mom and Her Girls

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grace Like.... Taco Salad

While I'm publishing stuff that's sat in draft form for way too long, here's another old post that I never published.
Re-reading it brought a smile to my face.
I hope it does the same for you. :)

Today's been quite a day. But it's been full of grace... grace I didn't deserve. Not only is God far kinder than I deserve, but so are people in my life!

Today really started with yesterday, when my car broke down as I was leaving an emergency ultrasound appointment with a client. The car started acting funny, then funnier, then downright scary when I managed to jerk into a nearby church parking lot before it totally stopped working. Dad and Sam were so kind to come to my rescue and bring me over to Mom and Dad's 31rst wedding anniversary celebration that I was missing!

Today, Abe loaded up the car and hauled it home. The days of the good old green car may be numbered. (I bought it less than a year ago.) It seems like the transmission AND an axle decided to have major problems at the same time. Oh yes... and the brakes. That's after the $500 repair on something else last month.
I do drive the poor thing a lot.

Anyway, my dad graciously agreed to let me use his car til we can fix mine (if it's worth doing that) or figure out a Plan B. So, he unloaded his tools from the work car this morning and handed me the keys.

My mother kindly made the seven trips from the house to the car loading all of my birth and prenatal bags, charts, oxygen tank and all of the other midwife supplies that have to accompany me everywhere I go. I was upstairs, replying to urgent legislative emails when she brought me a fresh fruit smoothie before I ran out the door. My mom doesn't have to be that nice. She just is.

I headed off to do prenatals, finding that this car has all of the quirks that Dad warned me about, plus a few other problems. But it runs, and it works in drive and reverse. I learned that the brakes work minimally and one should start braking a block away from the upcoming stop light. Thankfully, I learned that on a gravel road this morning when a large cow trailer stopped suddenly on the road in front of me and I slid gently into it, stomping hard on the brakes.
Dad's car looks so awful that it's almost hilarious! I definitely look like a charity case or a drug dealer (take your pick) pulling up at people's house.

So, away I went in my lovely car. I stopped by a former client's house to return some books she'd loaned me last fall. She looked soooo happy to see me, and scooped up her sweet little girl and put her in my arms. "Isn't she beautiful?! I've missed you!!!" and a hundred other things tumbled out of her mouth. The client who never chatted or said much beside the necessary stuff at prenatals. I thought she didn't particularly like me. Some days I wondered if she just wasn't the emotional or friendly type. But today, she almost cried that I had stopped to see her, and she had to show me all of her baby's pictures on her digital camera. I realized for the first time that she really did like me a lot, and she counted me among her good friends.

My happiness was short-lived though, when I arrived at my Amish client's house to find that she wasn't there. With no phone to call her and re-schedule, it could be tricky to catch her at home in the next couple days. So I wrote her a note and left it on the kitchen table.

I got a text from another client: "Did I have an appointment at your office at 10?"
I groaned. I must not have wrote her appointment down in my schedule book after we'd be emailing and she had rescheduled it... great. Now, she had driven a long way for her appointment, and had taken off work. This was just not .... good. She'd have to sit there all morning waiting for me to get there from Amish country and she needed to get back to work.

I thought fast and told her to go back to work and I'd make up by coming for an evening home visit. I knew she wasn't happy and I had just messed up her whole day. I apologized. She said it was okay, but I could hear in her voice that it wasn't okay. I felt horrible. But, there was nothing left to do... So, I went on with the day's errands and headed to the office.

One of my clients told me that she wanted me to keep the extra $200 that they'd paid me. Really?

Then I did initial visits for several new clients - and I love them!

And then regular prenatals. A baby that has been breech for awhile is now vertex! Grace.
Thank you, God.

And then I met my sister at the sonographer's for her ultrasound. Some of it looked better than we had hoped. Some looked a little concerning. Grace.

Then I rushed to the town where my client lives who'd come to the office in vain that morning. She invited me for a dinner of taco salad with her and her husband. A much better choice than fast food or the handful of almonds I still had in my car. Grace. I'd just missed her appointment this morning, and she had felt horrible the whole day, and the drive had made her feel worse... and yet, they served me taco salad with a smile. And we talked about her upcoming birth, and her mom, and her hopes and fears. Grace. Big grace.

And then I drove the old white boat of a car home, listening to the Ipod that another client gave me several years ago. And I thought about Grace...

Getting what I don't deserve. That's me. That's my life. That's my God!

It Is Christ

It is not thy hold on Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.

It is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.

It is not thy faith in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.

- C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Singleness ~ All That Really Matters

My little sister, Joanna, in the hayfield

I wrote this blog post a few months ago, and then never posted it. Tonight, as I was looking through some of my old drafts that I never quite dared to hit "publish" on, I decided to go ahead. I hope it blesses someone. :)

Today's been a day of reflection. I spent most of it out in the sun, making a garden for a dear friend. I loved soaking up the sun, the wind, the fresh air, the dirt between my fingers, the little green leaves popping out of the tree branches above my head. We knelt beside the garden, pulled weeds, shook dirt out of clods of sod, and hauled buckets of compost. We talked about all the things we used to be... the innocent little girls we were who wanted to get married at eighteen.

The girls we are now. . .

She'd rather be playing with her baby and cleaning her house, she said. But instead she has to work. That wasn't the mommyhood she had planned for herself as a teenager.

As for me, nothing has turned out to be the way I thought it would be.

But my life isn't bad. It's just not what I wanted. Or what I thought I wanted.
I wanted to have a whole passel of kids by now.... a husband with the world to conquer and me behind him to help him do it.

But does it really matter? I have God.

Is God sovereign? Yes.
Does God love me? Yes.
Does God glorify Himself through our lives, rough and crooked though they are? Yes.

Is He glorified in me?
That I ask myself today.... Is He?

That's all that really matters.
If I am what God wants...
If I am the daughter He made for His own pleasure, may I bring Him pleasure.

May my life, "pleasing or painful, dark or bright, as best may seem to Thee..."
be a symphony of praise, a ray of God's glory, a beacon of the Hope that lies ahead.

May I care more if God is glorified through my life of aloneness than I care that I am alone.

May I care more if God is pleased, than if I am pleased with what He gave me.

May I be pleased with what He gave me.

"There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass." Joshua 21:45

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Aren't You Glad?!

Nothing can alter the character of God.

In the course of a human life,
tastes and outlook and temper may change radically:
a kind, equable man may turn bitter and crotchety:
a man of good-will may grow cynical and callous.

But nothing of this sort happens to the Creator.
He never becomes less truthful, or merciful,
or just, or good, than He used to be.

--J.I. Packer

Early Morning Gratitute

I went for a run in the already warm, sticky, sun-coming-up-over-the-hills morning and

I found myself grateful for

a healthy body

great running shoes

an Ipod full of lovely music and thoughts and words


creeks babbling over polished stones

sun-dappled country roads with trees forming a canopy overhead

An hour alone without my phone ringing or people trying to talk to me

Liz back at home, singing and making breakfast

And most of all, my mind focused on the phrase:

"... the God of Hope..." (Romans 15:13) -- More on that, coming soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Because He Only Gives Love

I'm thinking it may be time to give up.
Give up, once and for all -
give up all the fears and all that weighs heavy.

Give up the worries - and "bend the knee and be small"
and let God give what God chooses to give --

because He only gives love.

~ Ann Voskamp

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The God Who Rules ALL Things Well

I'm so glad God sends me tokens of His love.

Sometimes it's just peace, complete peace, when a situation is rearing it's ugly head and threatening to destroy what I love most.

John Wesley said it well when he said, "I see God as sitting upon His throne, ruling all things well."

I've repeated that to myself so many times this week. And it reminds me to believe it that, YES, God IS on His throne, and He is ruling ALL things well!

Then there are other things - things that I thought would never work out so well, and they have. They remind me again, "Oh, ye of little faith! Why did you doubt?!"

Why do I not believe the Sovereign God to order all things well in my life and in the lives of those around me?

Why do I fret... worry about stuff that seems to big and awful to me, and yet seems so little and simple to God?

This is probably the five-hundredth time I've had to learn this lesson. I don't know why I forget so quickly. But I'm glad God never stops reminding me: "See, Mary? I'm God. I can take care of this."

Yes, Lord. You can do all things. I know that you can...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Forgiven Souls

A few tidbits from J.C. Ryle this morning:

Forgiven souls hate sin.
Remember the woman in Simon's house weeping at Jesus feet over her sin? (Luke 7:38)
Remember how the Ephesians publicly burned their wicked books? (Acts 19:19)
Remember how Paul mourned over his youthful transgressions? (I Cor. 15:9)

Forgiven souls love Christ.
As Jesus said to Simon, "Her sins, which are man, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." (Luke 7:47)
John 5:23
I Cor. 16:22

Forgiven souls are humble.
Forgiveness produces the spirit of Jacob: "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and all the truth which Thou hast showed unto Thy servant." (Genesis 32:10)
It produces the heart of Hezekiah: "I shall go softly all my years..." (Isaiah 38:15)
And that of the Apostle Paul: "I am less than the least of all saints - chief of sinners." (Ephesians 3:8, I Timothy 1:15)

Forgiven souls are holy.
"What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits?" (Psalm 116:12)
Zacchaeus pardon made him say, "The half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold." (Luke 19:8)

Forgiven souls are forgiving.
They endeavour to "Walk in love, as Christ loved them, and gave Himself for them." (Eph. 5:2)
Forgiveness is the way by which every saved soul enters heaven. Forgiveness is the only title by which he remains in heaven. Forgiveness is the eternal song of the with all the redeemed who inhabit heaven. Surely an unforgiving soul in heaven would find his heart completely out of tune.

And lastly, the most important thing - Are you forgiven?

How can you be content to leave it uncertain whether you are forgiven? Surely that a man can make his will, insure his life, given directions about his funeral, and yet leave his soul's affairs in uncertainty, is an astonishing thing indeed.
Jesus calls out, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Thousands and tens of thousands have sought for pardon at the mercy seat of Jesus Christ, and not one has ever returned to say that he sought in vain. Sinners of every name and nation - sinners of every sort and description - have knocked at the door of the fold, and none have ever been refused admission. Zacchaeus the extortioner, Mary Magdalen the harlot, Saul the persecutor, Peter the denier of his Lord, the Jews who crucified their Messiah, the idolatrous Athenians, the adulterous Corinthians, the ignorant Africans, the bloodthirsty New Zealanders - all have ventured their souls on Christ's promises of pardon, and none have ever found them fail.

-- J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Words You Can't Utter

One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart
that you can't utter.
- James Earl

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rats in the Cellar

Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is?
Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light."
-- C.S. Lewis

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Tonight I'm thankful for

So very many dishes to wash

16 little children, mostly under the age of 8, at our house for the day

All the cheerios, pineapple, peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt smoothies, chicken nuggets, mulberries, strawberries, and cherries they ate all day long, leaving crumbs all over the floor and juice dribbling down their chins and arms

Sweaty, dirty little 2 year old arms encircling my neck and squeezing me tight when I'm already hot and sweaty and don't want anybody to touch me

A dad who says "I love you" every time he calls me or sees me leaving for the day.

A mom who says, "Let's stop and pray about this right now" every time a conversation involves someone else's problems.

A sister who does hard things without complaint

A teenage brother who isn't afraid of long, long hot sweaty days of work

Dinner with my family and friends all around the table.

Cold water gushing out of garden hoses as I plant tomatoes

Piles of clean sheets and laundry, preparing for the next friends' arrival

Quiet nights all by myself with chances to hear myself think after everyone's gone to sleep

Summer breezes drifting in the open windows when I awake

Being mostly off-call.