These photos were taken in the height of this seemingly endless “Indian Summer.” I am so tired of being hot and sweaty! Soon we will be complaining of the cold. Today the high is forecast much more like autumn with a high temperature lower than most evenings have been lately. This was a walk we took with Lucky last week. If you need a touch of autumn be sure to watch the few second video at the end! Second #8 was quite a catch if I do say so myself 🙂
Besides being a terrific friend and wondrous photographer, Dan has encouraged me in my walk for years. He has been reading The Valley of Vision, A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions for a number of years. I have looked at it when we visit his home in New Mexico. I have looked at it online. I have hesitated to purchase it because the language is often Thou, Thy, Thine. I get caught up in translating to you, yours, etc. I even foudn a few entries in an online blog with updated language. On further review though, it was only a few entries.
Dan surprised me this summer and sent me the book. As you likely know we purged so MANY books when we moved. Hey! I need this one! I have been reading it, not daily, but often, and find these prayers more often than not address my heart.
Writing this week about sin and forgiveness, I read the entry called Divine Mercies. These phrases leapt out at me. Praying about sin the author wrote: “Yet still I live, and fly repenting to thy outstretched arms.” What a wondrous word picture! and “O my God, I bid farewell to sin by clinging to his cross, hiding in his wounds, and sheltering in his side.”
The phrase “clinging to His cross” reminds me of a drawing I did many years ago. Sadly I folded it at some point and wrote notes on the back. Guess I was not too impressed with my own work.
God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.
Hebrews 6:18-20 NIV
Wikipedia says the anchor symbolizes hope, steadfastness, calm and composure. I would have to agree!I stand on the flanges of the anchor. I embrace the cross, clinging to this anchor for my soul. Jesus is firm and secure. He has entered the inner sanctuary on my behalf. And I am at rest in Him.
Been praying about how to tell my story of journey in life with God. Also been praying for my friend Mindy, mother of 2, happily married. After the extensive Whipple procedure to remove benign massive tumor around her organs, a year later as a result of the surgery, she got the liver transplant she so badly needed and then things went downhill rapidly. At this point Mindy is in an unconscious state, perhaps locked-in syndrome. She cannot communicate. She did seem to respond once, but now her eyes simply “look vacant.” The hospital was going to move her to a critical care facility but she has a fever of 101. God knows the heart of this woman and her family. Please, Lord, have mercy upon her. One of her daughters attended her first Homecoming dance last weekend. Here she is with her Dad. Please pray for Mindy and her family.
When our daughter was in elementary school and our son a toddler I began a prison ministry with my friend, Linda. I had taught a few Bible Studies through Women’s Aglow Fellowship. Our chapter was looking for a way to reach the community of the lost. The county had built a new jail facility. I saw on the evening news that they were giving tours of the facility before the prisoners were moved from the old facility. So I showed up for the tour. They asked what I wanted to do. I said volunteer for Bible Study. Though I had no credentials, they issued me a Pastoral pass.
A few months later Linda and I began going into the women’s unit once a week for Bible Study. She was allowed to bring her guitar to lead a few praise and worship songs. I taught from notes I developed from my study times. We asked each woman to sign in with her name and prisoner number. With their prisoner number we were allowed to write them a note each week. Linda and I would pray and have communion together before we entered the jail. We usually prayed all the way to downtown, sometimes intensely sensing warfare against our efforts.
I found a metal pin on button that I began to wear every week. It said, “I am not as innocent as I look.” Linda melted hearts with her unconditional love and hugs. I opened my mouth to teach and wanted them to understand I was not a sinless suburban woman coming to be a do-gooder among them. Frankly, you have never taught Bible study until you have spoken in a cinder block room with metal furniture bolted to the floor and $10,000 Pyramid blasting over the TV. The guards who were favorable to our visits often turned the volume a little lower. Yes, I quickly learned to project my voice!
Linda and I prayed too after the study time. We split the list of names and prayed over each note, asking the Holy Spirit what we should pray and what Scripture to include in our note to mail. The women were deeply touched by our notes. Touched as only the Lord could touch. Linda and I were acutely aware that we were nothing special. He had to be working.
I used as much Scripture as I could while teaching. Often I used 1 John 1:9 NIV
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 NIV
Yes, I had learned many times over the value of this verse and the tremendous forgiveness and cleansing we are promised through it. I also understood Jeremiah 17:0
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9 KJV
Often I cannot even see my sin or sinful attitudes. The Word and the Spirit are willing to show me if I will listen and remain open to instruction. The trouble is I often think I have it all together and ignore the first few warnings from the Lord. That’s about the time I tend to say, “Thanks, Lord! I can take it from here!” Next thing I am face down in the mud.
No, I am not going to list all of the sins I have committed over the last years. I write all this to encourage you to keep your hearts soft and your ears open.
If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.
I have found that as I approach 71 years old it is not so easy just to report to you the facts of my life with God. I keep reading new things that influence how I say what I have to say. You see, it is not easy to relate an incident with the Holy. Words automatically diminish the experience.
I ordered one book from the Search Ohio library system. It is entitled “Writing in the Sand” by Thomas Moore. Subtitled: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels. I had previously read Moore’s Care ofthe Soul. Decided since we just purged SO MANY BOOKS when we moved, I should try to borrow this one to see if we need to own it. Now half way through this one, I think we probably will own it. Very meaty and will take me more than one reading to fully comprehend.
I was sent an email notice about a book called Letters from the Mountain written by Ben Palpant being sold by Rabbit Room. The description said, “In this memoir of the craft, Ben Palpant unpacks a lifetime of wisdom gained through the long, hard work of learning to write and to live well. Delivered as a series of letters from father to daughter, he patiently and gracefully paints a vision of what it means to enter into one’s creative work as an act of generative obedience – an act that blesses the writer, the work itself, and the world that receives it.”
I clicked purchase without any hesitation. A few days later as I walked the dog while retrieving the mail, the book arrived in our mail box. As soon as I unwrapped it in the street, I was reading it standing on the sidewalk waiting for Lucky to “do her business.” I was drawn like I have not been drawn by a book for a long time. First drawn by my longing to have a father’s advice on the writing life. Then stung by not having my Dad most of my life to guide and encourage me. Then grateful for the book as if the Lord was handing it to me. Joyful over the aspect of being touched and led. Now chewing on the bones and meat of this tome.
The quote his daughter chose in the forward by Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet, sum up my struggle.
“Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us to believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.”
Rainer Marie Rilke
Unsayable. Holy things are immediately diminished when we try to put words around them. Poignant becomes less than when I try to pin it down with words. Struggling with how to relate this to you, the reader, I was reminded that often the Lord has asked me just to be His lily leaf, stand and tip.
So my walk with God is just percolating with these refinements and struggles to express myself. Finally, I have decided to work my way through my journals (and there a TON of journals, maybe 30 or more) and poetry to try to relate my story with God to you. Mostly in chronological order, but am certain there will be times when I jump out of order and just tell the story.
He calls me to stand and tip.
My prayer on October 1, 2021. Father, You led me to this. How do I express in the blog these unsayable things in my own life that have been steeped in Your Presence, soaked with Your love, dripping with Your power especially in my weakness? Help me find the words from my experiences and through the journals and poetry to encourage others, show the way to Your heart, reveal my soul, uncover my hidden-ness and show forth Your glory … Your Presence here and now. Only You can guide me in this. My methods have been faltering. I want to do Your work and Your call. Guide me, O Thou, great Jehovah.” It is almost too difficult to even write that prayer. I am not asking for help for my own glory, but so that You may be glorified and lifted up.
I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. 2 Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. 3 For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. 4 Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.
Not certain the exact date I wrote this, but it was before 1990. The last two lines were added after the first writing at a time when I was trying too hard. God and I have a joke. I say, “Lord, I’m trying!” And He says, “Yes, dear, very trying.” Then I rest in His presence and try to allow Him to work in and through me.
When we traveled to Mount Vernon, Ohio I was noticing again the contrast between Texas size and Ohio size oil operation sizes. I grew up being fascinated by the oil pumps throughout Pennsylvania and to a lesser extent Ohio.
So I had an errand in Northern Kentucky. I took a wrong turn and immediately realized I had taken the same wrong turn a few weeks earlier. Went to turn around at Lowe’s. Noticed a big banner sign that said “Bowling.” I did not catch the name of the alley, but it was there. Right next to it was a medical office that was called Bowling Chiropractic. Had me laughing! I could just hear, “Well, doc, I wrenched my back on the spare. Can you fix me up for the next frame?”
Once back in Ohio near home, I stopped at the grocery. Saw this sight and asked him if he was going to drive?
I looked to the left and started laughing at this sight.
A woman to my right started calling, “Wait! I have one too!”
Since they were all confined I thought it was a hilarious day at the grocery parking lot. When I finished my shopping they had all departed. I think we had a mix of boxers and maybe a pit bull.
Keep your eye out for simple, amusing treasures in plain sight!
When we traveled near Mt. Vernon, Ohio we went to see the covered “Bridge of Dreams” over the Mohican river and had to check out the village of Brinkhaven, also called Gann. This is located in Knox county, Ohio and has a population of about 125. The statistics look as if the high point was in 1910 with a population of 341. It is a tiny village of a few streets. It was like stepping back in time to a slower era. No stores or shops, no gas station, not even a cell tower to be found. I can’t remember if we had cell service there or not.
One little house looked really old, though tidy, clean and obviously had been updated over the years. A woman was cleaning up weeds, etc. We asked her how old the house was. She was uncertain, but she had found a postcard in the attic that her mother had sent to her grandfather dated something like 1910?
Just across Ohio 62 and up the hill is access to the Bridge of Dreams:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_of_Dreams gives details about the conversion of the bridge from railroad use to multi purpose use. One grounds keeper told us that one of the stipulations for the funds that were raised along with the grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources included making this trail and bridge accessible to equestrians and the Amish in their horse drawn vehicles. They were doing the semi-annual horse apple removal when we visited. What a job!
Route 62 has heavy truck traffic and almost no shoulders. We were glad to learn this is a safer route for the Amish to take between East Street in Danville and the Holmes County line.
On our last day exploring the area we were surprised to see several law enforcement cars around the Brinkhaven turn off. Then a helicopter hovering over the area. The chopper circled back over us and then hovered along the fields as we traveled. All we could think was a criminal on the loose? Hiding in this barely populated area of Ohio? We never found out what was going on or if the officers caught the person. We moved along and minded our own business. Trust me, we were not going to give anyone a ride!