The Romantic River Seine is Raging

Notre Dame Gargoyle overlooking The Seine RiverThis morning’s Daily Mail from the UK reported this chilling bit of news: River Seine flooding. Daily Mail Photo*18 people have died across Europe as a result of last week’s torrential rains, City View of The Seine Riverand “its warned River Seine could swell to 21 feet above its normal level.” Daily Mail photo of River Seine Flooding*Last night, the flood was 6.10 meters (20 feet) high. Trees lining The Seine River(Compare the above picture to this picture I took a few weeks ago.)Entree du port de la Rochelle. Paul SignacI can’t imagine this is happening, but it is. Eiffel Tower along Seine RiverI’d been working on a post about the romantic Seine, but now it’s on a rampage. Louvre Museum. ParisThe Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, where we visited under blue skies last month, The Musée d'Orsayare shut down and dozens of volunteers are scrambling to save Portrait de l'artiste. Vincent Van Gogh. 1889some 38,000 works of art by transporting them to higher floors. The Pantheon along the River SeineThe Grand Palais exhibition center, two National Libraries, Paris by Night from Eiffel Towerand some of the subways have also shut down. The Seine River and the Eiffel TowerJPGWhat was so life-giving and peaceful has become deadly! Walking along the River SeingBut, let me back up and tell you about my experience of the River Seine in May
and then bring us back to today.  River Seine winds through FranceThe River Seine winds like a silver snake from Source-Seine for 777 km Seine empties into English ChannelJPGthrough Paris and out to the English Channel at La Havre. Flying Across English Channel to France at SunsetWhen we flew across the channel from London,
River Seine from the airit was the striking focal point of my enraptured gaze (since I mustn’t stare at the sun); I sat transfixed, watching it shimmer in the sunset. The Seine River along fertile farmlandThe Seine River nourishes all the fertile farmland of the Paris Basin, The Seine River, like a silver snakeand from time immemorial it’s been France’s major commercial shipping artery. River Seine as seen from the airThe Lower Seine is dredged, so it’s navigable by ocean-going vessels to Rouen, The Seine River is widewhich is 75 miles inland from the English Channel. River Seine BoatsSmaller vessels can ply the river’s waterways past Rouen, through Paris,
and much beyond.Painter painting The Seine RiverThe River Seine is a celebrated destination for painters and lovers alikeVincent Van Gough La Nuit étoilé "The Starry Night" 1888because it symbolizes all that is romance and beauty in Paris! Aerial view of River SeineThis magnificent river cuts through the heart of Paris, Seine as seen from the airroughly dividing the city in half, with the “Left Bank” being the southern half,
or the “left” bank if you’re looking downstream (although this view is upstream). River Seine wide and deepHistorically, the Left Bank was the Latin Quarter, dwelling place of artists, Standing on Bridge overlooking The Seine Riverwriters, poets, philosophers and students…the creative dreamers and thinkers. Chimera overlooking The Seine RiverThe Right Bank is alive with commerce and business. Paris from the AirBut, just like the “right brain” and “left brain” myths have been debunked, The Seine River flowing through the heart of Paristhe Left Bank and Right Bank have succumbed to the “East” and “West,” Sidewalk lined with artwork along The Seine Riverand although there are still distinct flavors to each side, The Seine River at Nightthe city is brimming with life, business, and feasting late into the night
on both sides of the River Seine. Rue des Lombards at NightWe stayed on rue des Lombards almost under the shadow of Notre Dame
on the Right Bank, but I dare say the streets were still overflowing at midnight! 37 Bridges along River Seine in ParisWithin the city of Paris, there are 37 bridges across the Seine, Pont Neuf Bridge in Paristhe oldest being Pont Neuf, dating back to 1607. River Seine WalkWhen we visited in May, we stayed in the heart of the city and walked along the Seine every day to reach our destinations, most of which were near the river! Taking picture of The Seine RiverIt never once crossed my mind to fear the river. Tour Boat plying The Seine RiverIt was beautiful, nurturing…full of vitality and life! Road along The Seine RiverIn some ways, that reminds me of how I feel about Jesus,
who is “the way, the truth, and the life”  (John 14:6). Cars driving along The Seine RiverHowever, there’s a second half to John 14:6, and that says,
“No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Bridge across The Seine RiverThose who trust in Him can go safely to the Father in peace. Spire of Notre Dame overlooking The Seine RiverBut, God will reject those who refuse his Son, Chestnut trees along The Seine Riverand at the end of the world, there will be torrential downpour of judgment more deadly than the River Seine when it rages.
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24)  

River Seine and Paris from airAnd the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:  For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)   La Seine a Herblay. Maximilien LuceAnd I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20: 11-12;15)  Boats along the River SeineThen said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him [Jesus] whom he [God] hath sent.” (John 6:28-29)

(*The two photos labeled AFP images and Golf Photos are from today’s Daily Mail, June 30, 2016, found here: The rest are from our trip to France in May, 2016.)

Best Remedy for Sunburn

Summer SunWith July coming this week and the weatherman promising soaring temperatures, I thought it might be a good time to share a story about a friend of mine (not one living here in GR) who was out working in the sun for a few hours last week and burned his back very badly. His arms (which had been exposed already for many weeks during the spring) didn’t burn, and he was concentrating on finishing his work, so it wasn’t until he came inside that he realized the extent of his injury. He was in pain for days, had trouble sleeping, and is just now starting to feel better…although his back is now terribly itchy as the skin peels.

As soon as I heard about it, I remembered a couple of miserable experiences I’d had with burns, and that my mother treated my back with vinegar, which smelled horrible but was very effective, so I recommended his trying vinegar, although I couldn’t tell him why it would work, just that I knew from experience that it had helped me. He was not convinced. I also remembered getting a terrible chemical burn from trying to process by hand my first bumper crop of jalapeno peppers from our garden. I was in such agony that I almost went into an ER, but when I called, they didn’t really make any promises of instant cures, so I started calling around. Finally, the Michigan State University Extension Service recommended soaking my hands in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. It really took the sting away, although as soon as I took my hands out of the water, they’d start to hurt again. I recalled that after many applications and a couple of days, the pain subsided, and so after my friend had suffered a day with the pain unabated, I encouraged him again to try vinegar. But, he was still unconvinced. However, he just called not long ago to let me know that he had done quite a bit of research on the internet and found that vinegar was among the common home remedies, and that he’d taken a tepid bath with some vinegar in the water, which had helped.

Two things came out of this uncomfortable experience. One is that I studied up on remedies for sunburn, and the other is to think about how often I recommend Christ as the solution for the “burns” of life, but often find that others aren’t convinced by my suggestions. In the final analysis, each person has to anguish, study, and seek out their own remedies for their problems. Below I’ve listed everything I found for dealing with sunburn, but I still believe from my personal experience that the world’s best remedy is the immediate (and if needed, repeated) application of apple cider vinegar. I haven’t listed everything I’ve learned about dealing with life burns (because the list would be legion), but I still believe from my personal experience that the world’s best remedy is the immediate (and repeated) application of Jesus Christ, submitting to him as Lord and asking him to save and heal us.Setting Sun Play at Beach

Help for sunburns:

  1. Get out of the sun and into the shade immediately; keep cool.
  2. Cool down quickly in cool shower or with cold compresses to insure all soaps, dirt, or oil-based lotions are cleansed away. (Soaps are too drying, and oil-based lotions can trap heat and exacerbate the burn.)
  3. Apply apple cider vinegar to the affected areas; if you can, take a bath with tepid water and 1-2 cups of vinegar. Save the water in the tub and repeat several times at intervals if needed over the next few hours. (It’s a great astringent and also helps restore proper pH balance.)
  4. Moisturize your skin, but not with petroleum or oil-based ointments that trap heat and cause more damage.
  5. Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen to decrease inflammation and relieve pain. (If you’re already on medications, you should check with your doctor first on this one.)
  6.  Rehydrate by drinking extra liquids, including water, lightly fruited drinks, or sport drinks to help replenish electrolytes, both immediately and while your skin is healing.
  7. Take it easy and sleep. The burn and pain will make you tired. If you can’t sleep, try sprinkling a little talcum powder on your sheets to reduce chaffing. If your legs and feet are burned and swollen, elevate them to above your heart level to help stop swelling.
  8. Consult a doctor if you develop these symptoms: severe blistering,  nausea, chills/fever, faintness, generalized weakness, confusion, patches of purple discoloration or intense itching.
  9. If your skin blisters, try not to pop the bubbles. (Some say you can use a sterilized needle if they’re very painful, but I wouldn’t recommend it.) Be aware that if the burn seems to be spreading, you could be developing an infection that might compound the problem.
  10. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Always use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher about 30 minutes before going out, even if it’s overcast. (You can burn just fine through clouds.) Don’t forget lip balm with SPF, wear protective clothing and sunglasses (good for protecting from the development of cataracts when you’re old as well), and avoid prolonged sun exposure. Take extra care between 10am-4pm. Remember that if you’ve been burned, the new skin is even more sensitive; it takes 3-6 months to regenerate completely.

There are lots of other ideas for home and commercial remedies out there. To name a few: Cool, fat-free milk, buttermilk, or yogurt compress; wet tea bags on your eyelids; 2 cups of baking soda in a tepid bath; aloe vera; witch hazel; oatmeal…and the list goes on, including some very expensive glamour options. But, I haven’t found anything that works as well as plain, old inexpensive apple cider vinegar. It might not smell as sweet as a commercial product, but I believe it’s the most effective thing out there. Similarly, Jesus Christ and the plain, “old, rugged cross” (which was expensive for God but totally free for you and me) may not seem as fragrant or glamorous as a more costly solution, but it works! Please don’t put Christ off and suffer along because you’re not convinced. At least try!

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38).Hot Air Balloon in Sun




The Birthday Club: Bike Rides and Covered Bridges

Fallasburg Covered BridgeOn my trip to France, I had a dream one night that our birthday club was seeing all the D-Day sites, and since that night I’ve become obsessively enamored
with the idea of writing a novel about our birthday club traveling the world. Photo of Three SistersHowever, I will state up front that if this book ever comes to pass, the characters will not reflect the persons of my two dear birthday buddies—absolutely and unequivocally—as I have a friend who wrote a book with a character suspiciously like me, of whom I did not at all approve, and so I wouldn’t want my real friends to disown me for misrepresentation.

Nona's Restaurant. Ada MIStill, the adventures we have on our birthday club outings are truly a blessing, and so I’ll share this spring’s adventure with you. Flat River GrillFor a starter, the two non-birthday members go into cahoots
planning a surprise for the birthday honoree, Ada Covered Bridgeand this time Cindi had two irresistibly bright ideas for spoiling Susan: Biking near Ada Covered Bridge MITo go for a bike ride,Birthday Club at Ada Covered Bridge and to visit two (of the only eight remaining) covered bridges in Michigan.

Flat River in Fallasburg County Park MIAlthough Alan and I spent years riding racing bikes together as the #1 event in our favorite Date Night Triathlon (followed by #2. soaking in a hot tub and #3. eating out), I haven’t been on a non-tandem bike in years, so riding brought me straight back to my childhood, and I came home telling Alan that we need to start biking again! (Big advantage of Birthday Club: Trying new [or old] things!)Lunch at Nona's in Ada MIThe second event in our Birthday Club Marathon was lunch at Nona’s in Ada, MI which has just opened a new restaurant. (Cindi’s daughter is working as a prep chef there this summer. The mushroom ravioli is awesome, just so you know!) The third event was touring the little village of Ada and their Tuesday Farmers’ Market (in the parking lot of Ada Community Church, where my son Stephen served as the pianist for several years). Ada County ParkI was riding my bike as inexpertly as a teen just learning to drive, so I didn’t dare bring along my camera. Therefore, most of the photos from Ada are compliments of Cindi’s photographic skills. (Thanks, Cindi!) We also biked through Ada Township Park and stopped to enjoy vistas of the Thornapple River from the Ada Covered Bridge.

Fallasburg Covered Bridge InformationAfter parking our bikes, we drove to the Fallasburgh Covered Bridge
along the Flat River near Lowell, MI, Fallasburg School Museum. MIwhere there are a number of old, historic buildings left from the mid 1800’s. Fishing at Fallasburg County Park MIIt was a perfect summer day, breezy and beautiful, and as we meandered along, Cindi read verses from the Scriptures to remind us that God “covers” us
and listens with tender affection to our prayers,
the way a loving Father attends his children. Verses on Covering(This was inspired by the “covered” bridge theme.) Dessert at the Flat River Grill. Ada. MIThe day ended with coffee and dessert at the Flat River Grill
and sharing some birthday presents, Sisters!but the sweetness of our fellowship and God’s love for us
has lingered past the sweetness of our dessert. Birthday GiftsTruly, God’s love is our best gift! He is our inheritance, our covering,
and our “exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1).Fallasburg Covered Bridge. Vergennes. MII will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” (Psalm 61:4)

The Glory that is Paris: Cathédrale Notre-Dame

Chimera at Notre Dame Cathedral. ParisEdgar Allen Poe exalted in “the glory that was Greece,
and the grandeur that was Rome,” Kathi, Stephen and Joel at Notre Dame Cathedral. Parisbut I’d like to write about “the glory that is Paris,” Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris. Spring Chestnuts in bloomand among the greatest of her achievements is Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris ("Our Lady of Paris") on the the Île de la Cité in Paris(“Our Lady of Paris”) on the the Île de la Cité in Paris. Charts on history of Notre Dame Cathedral. ParisSince the cornerstone was laid in 1163, Notre Dame Cathedral has become Long history of Notre Dame Cathedral. Parisone of the largest and most famous churches in the world. Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris side viewIt is also one of the finest examples of French Gothic ArchitectureWide-angle view from South Tower of Notre Dame Cathedralto be found anywhere around the globe! Chimera at Notre Dame Cathedral. ParisAs Jean de Jandun wrote in Tractatus de laudibus Parisius back in 1323: Interior View of Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris“That most glorious church…deservedly shines out, like the sun among stars… Cross in front of stained glass window Notre Dame Cathedral. Pariswindows ruddy with precious colors and beautiful…” Ah, ’tis true! Stained Glass Windows in Notre Dame Cathedral. ParisAmong its glories, Notre Dame’s most outstanding features include:  Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris Flying ButtressesButresses#1. Flying buttresses Roofline Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris(an innovative feature added later to support walls that were starting to bulge). 8000 pipes for the Great Organ in Notre Dame#2. France’s largest pipe organ
(and likely the world’s most famous as well, with 8,000 pipes!). Gargoyle overlooking city from Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris#3.  Chimeras and gargoyles that adorn the exterior walls Gargoyle waterspout Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris(and serve as waterspouts), Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris Gargoyle made famous ’round the world by Disney’s version of  Victor Hugo’s
The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Emmanuel Bell in Notre Dame Cathedral#4. Bells (also of Hunchback fame). Front doors of Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris#5. Three magnificent front entries with elaborately carved reliefs and statues. Notre Dame Cathedral Paris Story of Christ in relief#6. Intricate carvings that teach the entire gospel Thomas touching Jesus' side Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris from the birth of Christ through his resurrection.Statues on roof of Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris#7. Tributes to the saints and apostles even on the rooftops!Beautiful stained glass windowns in Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris#8. And, my personal favorite: The biblical stories in glorious stained glass. Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris Tall!There are 10 bells at the Notre Dame, and it you’re willing to climb 387 steps Spire of Notre Dame Cathedral. Paristo the top of the South Tower Paris as seen from the Notre Dame Cathedral Bell Tower(totally worth the wait and walk…and has absolutely stunning views of the city), Bell of Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris you can see the largest bell, “Emmanuel” (“God with us!”),
which dates back to 1681 and weighs over 13 tons. Emmanuel Bell at Notre Dame Cathedral. ParisEmmanuel tolls out the hours of the day and other worthy occasions,
perhaps the most famous of which was during the dark night of August 24, 1944, when God made a way for France to be liberated from their captors.Stained Glass Notre Dame Cathedral. ParisDeep within her heart, Notre Dam is illuminated by rainbowed light
from dazzling, stained glass windows. Rose Window Notre Dame Cathedral. ParisThe crowning joy is Notre Dame’s South Rose Window,
which is 12.9 meters in diameter South Rose Window. Notre Dame Parisand is comprised of 84 individual panes
dedicated to teaching the New Testament. South Rose Window Notre Dame CathedralA gift from King Louis IV to the church, this window is considered one of Christianity’s greatest artistic masterpieces. Beautiful lighting inside Notre Dame Cathedral. ParisAs I stood mesmerized by the beauty and light, worshiping my great God,
whose glory inspired such tribute, Open window in Notre Dame CathedralI noticed that one of the stained glass windows was open. South Rose Windows with Candles burningFor some reason, it never occurred to me that any of the windows would open, but it made me think of Hosea 2:15, “And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there…” Worshiping in Notre DameEven in situations where we can’t imagine a window opening, Door of hope opens in stained glass window Notre Dame Cathedral. ParisGod can make a way for us.

“God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me.

“He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.”
(—Don Moen)Oil Painting in Notre Dame. Paris(I took all photos of, in, or from Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, May, 21016.)

Rise Up, My Love (192): As Beautiful as a Golf Ball!?

Self-portrait of Jacopo Robusti (Tintoretto)Song of Solomon 6:4 “Thou art beautiful, O my love.” What makes someone beautiful? I never cease to marvel at the bridegroom’s estimation of his wife’s beauty. Would she truly have won a “Miss Ancient Universe” contest? Statue of a Woman. LondonHave you seen pictures from that era? Long noses and fat bodies were in. Was she white, or black? Short or tall? Blonde or brunette? I suspect if she ran for Miss America today, she wouldn’t win…she’d be too short and plump for the tastes of modern culture. But in her day, she was a woman recognized as a great beauty, for even the daughters of Jerusalem address her as “O thou fairest among women.” And, most importantly, her husband acclaimed her beauty.  Porcelain PlateWhat do you think makes a woman beautiful? Tastes change from culture to culture and era to era. Truly, there is has never been an enduring, universal standard of beauty in this world. Therefore, isn’t it reasonable to accept God’s standard of beauty instead of the whims of the world? What does God call beauty? It doesn’t seem to be so much what’s on the outside, but to God, I think it actually is “what’s in the heart that counts.”  Orange RoseThere seem to be four components to beauty…three of which are the responsibility of the individual person. First, a person is endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable characteristics: height, facial features, skin type, hair color, and general build. Since God was the master designer, and since he declared all his creative works “good” from the inception of time, it seems right to believe that each person he created is beautiful in his eyes. He made each one of us just the way he wanted us, didn’t he? So, we are born as he designed us (which we must accept by faith, because it doesn’t fit our human reasoning), but beyond that each of us is given three responsibilities: tending our body, enhancing it through appropriate dress, and illuminating it with the light of his presence. The strange woman in Proverbs 7 has a body that is beautiful but full of darkness. But, the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 has a body that is lovingly disciplined, beautifully maintained, and full of the light of his presence and good works. Peace LilyGod promises that such a woman will be praised, whether or not she could win a Miss Middle East contest in 1000 B.C. Think about it for a moment. Think about the people you know…your friends and neighbors…the people where you worship…the people in the work place. How many of them would you call truly beautiful? Try to mentally come up with some names. Now, switch gears and think about the same groups of people, and try to come up with a list of the people who are most loved and esteemed. Are they the same? The Lord says in I Corinthians 1:26 that not many who are wise, or mighty, or noble are called, and it appears to me that not many who are beautiful are called either. It has been said that a perfectly smooth golf ball would only travel about 130 yards off a tee, but with all the pock marks they fly almost twice as far due to minimized wind resistance. For the consolation of those billions of us who don’t count ourselves among the candidates for perfection incarnate (and I’ve never yet met someone who truly thought she was perfect)—trust God with the things about your body that you can’t change! All those “imperfections” that you’d like to change…the long nose or the high waist, the graying hair or the balding head…or more devastating deformities…remember that they’re just “dimples on your golf ball,” put their by the intentional design of your Creator so that you’ll fly further for his glory. Our “imperfections” (as we perceive them) really are there to cut down on our resistance to the winds of the Holy Spirit blowing and directing our lives to the goal of his glory! Wouldn’t you like to be a golf ball that could make a “hole in one?” Who cares what the golf ball looks like? It’s how true and straight it flies! “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24).Lavendar Iris(Like flowers, each individual is unique and beautiful. I do not believe that deformities and decay were ever a part of God’s original plan, but rather the result of sin and the fall of creation. God has promised to “make all things new” when he redeems the world, and then we will be perfect—and perfectly beautiful!)


How Will Britain’s Leaving the EU Effect the Rest of the World?

Changing of the Guard in LondonPersonally, I think this is another shot that’s going to be heard round the world and could have ramifications as earthshaking as America’s Revolution in 1775 or the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. Parliament Buildings in LondonAs one who benefited from Britain’s humanitarian hospitality while living there back in the summer of 1971, I was able to have a tooth filled for 1.16 £, a fraction of what it would have cost me in the U.S. Bobbies in front of Big BenSo, as an outside observer today, I can understand how the Brits—who are already carrying crushing financial burdens to benefit their former colonies— don’t want the additional pressure to uphold the collapsing economies in the troubled EU nations…particularly those stretched beyond their resources by trying to care for the millions of refugees flooding in from the Middle East. Statue of Winston Churchill. London                          However, having Britain leave will be a terrible blow. Ancient Coins from British MuseumTucked between Germany (#4) and France (#6) in the list of world’s greatest economic powers, Britain has the fifth highest GDP on earth, and losing their economic, military, and political strengths could (and I fear will) be disastrous for the stability of Europe as a continent…and the world at large. Rosetta Stone. British MuseumI sincerely hope I’m wrong. As Amos professed, “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son,”  but I can’t help but wonder if the time that the prophets wrote about is beginning to unfold. The Bible has long forewarned people that a day will come when the entire world will be thrown into such chaos that a ruler from the Middle East will gain global power by promising peace, although he will ultimately destroy much of the earth. I’m sure people must have wondered about Hitler (although he wasn’t from the Middle East), and now that the Middle East has become the primary source of unrest around the world, it seems conceivable that nations might rally round someone from that area who promises to “fix” everything. What will actually happen in the next few decades? I don’t know, but I do know the Lord urges us to “Watch and pray.”  Map of Persia.If this all sounds new and strange to you, most of the passages dealing with the “end times” come from the books of Daniel, the Gospels, and Revelation. Here are just a few verses to whet your appetite for further study, but also to offer hope:

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us” (1 John 2:17-19).

“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:1-3).

“And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:27-28).London Bridge across Thames River*I took all the photos in London during May, 2011 (some at the British Museum).

Those Frustrating (and sometimes scary) Roadblocks

tree blocking roadIn the last few weeks we’ve had two trees come down across our lane. The first was during a bad storm, so it wasn’t completely unexpected, but this past week a tree by our gate split for no obvious reason on a perfectly sunshiny summer day. Tree down across power lineOne fell across our power lines, and it took a couple of days to figure out what to do, although in the final analysis neither the telephone nor the electric company would fix it, so Alan and one of our neighbors had to. It was pretty scary, but they were able to clear the road without electrocuting themselves! Whew!Tree branch splitting off It seems like we hit roadblocks throughout our lives. Sometimes we’re half expecting them because we’re in a stormy situation, but other times they catch us totally off guard because they happen when our world is sunny and bright. Man on John Deer TractorI am very thankful for my husband, who rose to the occasion both times and tangled with the trees so we could get our cars out again. I’m not sure what I’d do without him! This is even more true for me spiritually. I am so thankful for the Lord, who rises to the occasion and untangles the messes in my life when roadblocks stop me in my tracks!DSC07838 (1)

“Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible;
He does the things others cannot do.”
—Oscar C. EliasonStack of woodThe things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

Window Pains

Deer in lakeThe next best thing to being outside is looking outside, as far as I can tell. Impatiens by lake 6.16We live in the woods on a tiny lake, Racoon by dockand there are few things that give me more “simple pleasure”Delphinium 6.16 than being able to look through the window panes and see something lovely, Old Snageven if it’s just an old snag Sun filtering through trees on lakeor the sun filtering through the trees on his way up   Rabbit eating cloverto greet Bunny Bright Eyes, who’s outside nibbling clover on our front lawn.Geese on lake frontStephen, taking a week’s respite from his PhD studies in NY,
offered to wash our windows, which is even more of a great idea than I realized! IMG_5708It wasn’t until this morning that I really noticed just how dirty our windows are.Reflection in Glass Oh, I always notice that I have to watch my angle
or I’ll get a reflection of myself when shooting out a window, IMG_5731and I notice how the sunshine coming through the window casts reflections thatIMG_5755 are sometimes so compelling that I focus on the reflection more than the reality, IMG_5732or find my vision somewhat obscured. IMG_5754It can be very disorienting! Plants in front of windowThere can also be so many things going on inside that my vision gets blocked. MandevillaMy heart is like that too! Sometimes I’m busily working away, Rain on Mandevillathinking everything is fine and not really noticing that things are getting a bit dingy ( or vaguely conscious but not yet motivated to fix it), Robin feeding babiesand it takes an offer of help from the outside to set things right. Dirty Windows!Of course, there’s nothing like good, strong sunlight to reveal all the dirt! IMG_5706When I sense that my vision’s becoming blurry and my heart is pained,IMG_5719 or that I’m distracted and out of focus, Cross by windowit’s time to listen to the promptings of friends
and let the Holy Spirit wash the windows of my heart, Doe standing at water's edgeso I’ll have clear, bright vision again! Gold Finch singing in the tree topsSearch me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

(Just in case you’re wondering, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I took all these photos out my windows over the past few days and this morning. Isn’t it amazing how clear and clean things can seem if we’re not focusing on them… until the Light shines just right?)

Ginseng 人蔘 or Jen Singh… Rouge River or Rogue River?

Kayaking on the Rogue River MI 3Did you have a happy Fathers’ Day yesterday? Joel's 25th Birthday PartyThe celebration of our youngest’s 25th birthday, known around these parts as 25 Dollar coins“Quarter of a Century WOL” (Joel)Opening Birthday Presents fell on Fathers’ Day this year, so we had all sorts of fun, Happy Father's Dayincluding an afternoon with Brianna and Dan the Fan Man (from his baby days), Dan and Sam looking at Fanaccompanied by Sam the Fan Man Elephant Child with 'satiable curiosity(Dan’s “Elephant Child,” who has his father’s ‘satiable curiosities)
for dinner after church, swimming and boating in the lake,Forget-me-nots and rushes along the Rogue River MIand blissfully topped off by Stephen’s arrival from Rochester for a week’s vacay. Beautiful Table setting for wedding dinnerAll in all, I’d say it was a fantabulous weekend, The happy wedding couplestarting out with the wedding celebration of Sudeep and
Ginseng (aka Jen Singh, but the names sound just the same), Launching on Rogue River tripand a wonderful canoe trip down the Rogue River. Kayaks on Rogue River MIJust in case you live in the GR area Reflections on the Rogue River MIand haven’t spent a couple of hours canoeing down the Rogue River yet,Dragon Fly on Rogue River trip I have to say, it is a really great experience.
(This dragon fly caught a ride on my knee!) Bridge on the Rogue River MIWe rented a canoe and a kayak from AAA Canoe Rental in Rockford Great Blue Heron on Rogue River MIand had an outstanding time, Trees overhanging the Rogue River MIbut if you’re on a limited budget Geese and goslings on shore on the Rogue River MI(as we were all the years our brood of seven were growing up), Turtle on the Rogue River MIyou can also just float down the river one of the old-fashioned ways,Group of kayakers on the Rogue River MI on inner tubes, rafts, or whatever you have on hand… Home on the Rogue River MIthe way we used to float down the Huron River when we lived in Ann Arbor.Tiny Waterfall on the Rogue River MIThe Rogue River is short and sweet, Fisherman on the Rogue River MIbut cool enough to attract trout fishermen. Trees overhanging river on the Rogue River MIIt flows gently for 48 miles from Rice Lake to the Grand River, Dam on the Rogue River MIand ends (for rafting purposes) at the Rockford Dam Waterfall in Rockord on the Rogue River MI—which makes a fantastic lunch spot— Lunch at Ramona's Table in Rockford on the Rogue River MIeither for picnicking or for restauranting! Biking on White Pine Trail beside the Rogue River MIThe Rogue River is intertwined with the White Pine Trail at times
(great for biking and hiking),Ferns along banks on the Rogue River MI and last weekend the banks were edged with ferns Forget-me-nots on the Rogue River MIgraced at times with forget-me-nots, Wild Irises on the Rogue River MIwild roses, and wild irises. Canoeing on the Rogue River MIIt was about 90° out, Soothing Greens on the Rogue River MIbut the river was shady and cool… Kayaking on the Rogue River MIperfect weather for comfy paddling! Shallow water on the Rogue River MIAlthough the river is typically just 1-4 feet deep, Some parts of river are deeper on the Rogue River MIthere are deeper areas and holes up to 15-feet deep,Swans and geese on the Rogue River MIso little guys and non-swimmers should definitely wear life jackets, Leisurely kayak ride on the Rogue River MIbut those of us long used to water sports found it the perfect way
to spend an unencumbered, celebratory summer morning. Kayaking under low-hanging trees on the Rogue River MIWhile we were paddling down the river,

Family at Dam in Rockford on the Rogue River MI I had names on the brain, because I was still smiling over the fact that my dear friend’s daughter had just given up her maiden name and now bears a name that sounds for all the world like “ginseng,” which I think is wonderful because of all the positive and healing associations with that lovely herb!

White Pine Trail beside the Rogue River MIThe Rogue River, on the other hand, got cheated, wouldn’t you say?? 😦Canoeing on the Rogue River MI 1It was originally named the Rouge River, but a Wisconsin mapmaker
muffed the spelling nearly 200 years ago, transposing the “u” and “g,”
Beach at end of Canoe Rentals in Rockfordand the new name stuck. Glorious Greens on the Rogue River MIFunny how such small changes, like transposed letters,
can make such a big difference in meaning! Water dripping off paddle on the Rogue River MIRouge is French for red in English,Shallow Bottom on the Rogue River MIbut “Rogue” conjures up images of something shallow,
untrustworthy, and deceptive! Mother of the Bride and KathiJen’s maiden name means “blessed”
and is rooted in the order of the Benedictine monks. Wedding CakeTo go from “blessed” to a “healing” seems fine, On the Rogue River MIbut to go from “rouge” (blushing, healthy…the picture of youthful goodness)Huge maples overhanging the Rogue River MIto “rogue” (vagabond) seems like a bad deal to me!

St. CecilaiDid you know that God offers each of us a new name? How do you feel about yourself? Would you like a new name? A new start? God wants all of us to be his children and take on His name…a name that will bring out the very best in each of us! Do you have your new name yet?Alan and Kathi at WeddingAs many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).  Bridal Flowers at Jen's WeddingHe that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it” (Revelation 2:17).

(All photos taken last weekend in our home, at the wedding, and along the Rogue River.)

Rise Up, My Love (191): Transforming Our Marriage from a Bubble to a Diamond

Happy Fathers’ Day to all you dear fathers out there! Bet being a dad is harder than you ever dreamed, but I hope it’s also more fulfilling! Thank God, He’s the best father ever! I marvel that He’s so patient with us, and I was thinking about that as I prepared this post about his love and the example in Song of Solomon 6:3, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.” This declaration marks the beginning of an unbroken communion between the husband and wife that continues to the end of the book. What precipitated it? Learning how to overcome sin. Learning how to give and accept forgiveness. Learning how to melt into one, like spring sunshine melting a snow deep into the warm earth beneath it. As our hearts warm, our own desires melt away and we are absorbed into Christ like storm clouds dissipating into spring showers. “My beloved is gone down into his garden…to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies…he feedeth among the lilies.” He feeds on our purity…on our melting into him and becoming one with him, just as surely and mysteriously as the spring rains feed the earth. Let us consider for a moment the great secret of learning to give and accept forgiveness, because I truly believe it is the pivotal point of every marriage. Dealing with sin is the universal crucible of marriage, and how the partners respond to sin will either break or make their marriage. Developing the humility to forgive and accept forgiveness will transform the “bubble” of romance into the diamond of enduring love. If this grace is developed, the marriage becomes as beautiful and unbreakable as a diamond. If this grace is not developed, the “bubble” of infatuation will burst into a thousand tiny teardrops, leaving behind no visible trace of its existence. Think with me for a minute about the nature of bubbles. Did you play with soap bubbles when you were little? They are formed by one breath of air into a little soapy water…nothing to them, really, but they are a perennial delight to the child in all of us, no matter how young or old. Transparent, rainbow-colored globes…they rise fast, float with the breeze, dance on the wind, and burst as soon as they’re touched. Have you ever experienced a relationship that reminded you of a soap bubble? Formed in an instant…so pleasing…rising fast, floating, dancing with delight… but as soon as you reached out to touch it—poof, it disappeared into thin air. When I was a girl, we called it puppy love, but today it seems to describe an alarming number of relationships even among adults. There aren’t just bubble romances, there are bubble marriages. A popular song on the radio (when I was writing this) was “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” the sad lament of a young woman who never met her father. But, such sorrows are not new. Think of the heart-wrenching story in 2 Samuel 13 of Amnon’s “love,” rape, and hatred for Tamar, the beautiful princess who was his half-sister. What went wrong? Amnon was as devoid of virtue as a soap bubble…he was totally empty. He had not a trace of remorse or repentance for his terrible crime, even when Tamar implored him to seek forgiveness and restitution from the king (implicit in her response in 2 Samuel 13:16). Although she seemed able to forgive, he was unable to accept forgiveness. Why? I believe pride is the problem and humility is the answer. Pride is like a great barred castle…a stone-faced wall we hide behind to keep from admitting we’ve ever been at fault or venturing forth to seek forgiveness. Pride is like a heavy ball and chain locking us to a post in the dungeon of our own making which keeps us from understanding the depths of our own sin and the marvel of God’s grace. If we could only be freed from our own pride and experience the depths of His grace, how eagerly we’d spring from the dungeon and run to forgive those who’ve trespassed against us! Pride is the padlock that keeps us bound. Humility is the key that will unlock our hearts. Contrast the pride of Amnon with the humility of the king in the Song of Solomon! Prince Amnon selfishly ruined his sister for a moment’s pleasure and refused to repent. For his evil conduct, he was later killed. King Solomon, rejected by his bride, tenderly retreated until she sought him out. And then, with love, humility, and forgiveness, he welcomed her back to his embrace…and won for himself her undivided devotion. The goal: A love that is able to give and accept forgiveness. The key: Humility based on insight into God’s love and forgiveness in dealing with our sins. The reward: The diamond of a beautiful and enduring marriage. May God so transform our marriages!