The Daughter of a Puritan: What’s in a Name?

My son Joel mentioned not long ago that I’m the most conservative person he’s ever met. He said it kindly, but I don’t think he expressly meant it as a compliment.

Do you know what your name means? If so, has that knowledge impacted your life? My first name is “Kathryn,” which comes from the root word for “pure,” and I’ve always attempted (with plenty of failures!) to live up to my name. However, for the first twelve years of life, I didn’t associate my name in any way with God, because since my father professed atheism and my mom agnosticism, we were never exposed to religious teaching. Still, both my parents ascribed to a very high morality, and I wanted to live up to their “gold standard.” I wanted to be pure!

This was on my mind when my daughter-in-law was visiting and showed me how to access genealogical research online. Various friends and relatives have been very involved in researching their roots, but until lately, I never seemed to find time. This week I want to share with you what I’ve been learning, and the first exciting revelation is that I’m the great great (make that 7 more greats) daughter of two Puritan ministers! So, maybe that’s part of the reason I’m motivated to be pure! Reverend Nathaniel Ward (the earliest record I can find, back in 1572) was a Cambridge-trained Puritan minister who helped his son, Reverend John Ward (also a Puritan) buy  16 acres for 3 pounds along the Merrimack River, where he became the first minister of the the colonial settlement named Haverhill in Massachusetts back in 1640.

Have you looked into your history? I’m finding so many interesting things! Despite my father’s lack of faith (until he came to believe in his 80’s), the description of  Nathaniel Ward fits my dad to a T: “He was an exact Grammarian, an expert Physician and which was the Top of all, a thorough Divine, accompanied with a most Healthy, Hardy and Agile Body which enabled him to make nothing of walking on foot, a Journey as long as Thirty Miles together.”

Names are precious, and roots help ground us, but over the years, I’ve learned to cherish the name “Christian” (little Christ, or son of Christ) above any other name, and I find it even more compelling than the name Kathryn, because Christ was pure and holy to be sure, but He is so much more as well! No matter what our earthly names or roots may be, for all who believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can be called by his name—the name above all names!

God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name
” (Philippians 2:9).

“Jesus, Name Above All Names”

“Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.” (—Naida Hearn)

(PS—The likeness is of Increase Mather, a Puritan minister from the same era. I couldn’t find any likeness of Rev. John Ward.)

Rise Up, My Love (245): The Joy of Being Desired

Song of Solomon 7:10 “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.” This is the third declaration of belonging that the bride has uttered, and there is a beautiful progression in the development of her love. In 2:16, after a time of dealing with all the insidious problems that could have destroyed the tender vine of their love, the young wife declared, “My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.” Here, in the springtime of their love, the bride states her first confidence that the one she so ardently longed for has indeed become her own possession, and she his.

The second declaration comes after a season of separation and struggle…after she has learned to appreciate his beauties in a deeper way and their fellowship has been restored. Song 6:3 states, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.” Here the emphasis has changed. She is not predominately interested in her own acquisition of him, but rather in belonging to him. It is now more a delight to her to be possessed than to possess! Do you sense the difference? She is more interested in his feelings and needs than in her own. Whereas the first declaration was “I…and also you,” the second one was “you, and also I.”

Then, after the husband reveals the depths of his love through his magnificent praises from 6:4—7:9, the wife’s focus changes again. In the security of his amazing love, she loses all awareness of self interest and she sees only him. She no longer cares about what is hers; she cares only that she belongs to him and that he desires her: “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.”

I wonder, where are our hearts? Is my only concern that I belong to Christ and he passionately desires me? How about you?

“I am my beloved’s.” I couldn’t help but notice the dark connotation in some of the meanings given for dabab from the previous verse. The bride’s praises aroused the sleeping ones to “plot; plan; tell tales.” As we go about sharing the wonderful news of Christ, many are aroused…some to search and find Christ, but others to envy…to plot and plan against him. We are not only a “savor of life unto life” to those who desire God, but to those who reject him, we are a savor of “death unto death” (2 Corinthians 2:16), and we find that while some love us and are drawn to our message, others hate our Lord and therefore us as well.

Perhaps this dark aspect of our pilgrim walk through this world was not troubling the bride at this particular moment, but perhaps there was some awareness of it in her exclamation: “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.” I belong to him…the world’s most powerful sovereign (and indeed—in Christ—we belong to the universe’s most powerful sovereign!), and he desires me, so I know he will protect me from all those who may “plot” or “plan” or “tell tales” against me! I belong to him…why should I fear what man may do to me?

“…and his desire is toward me.” Since he desires me…us…, why should we not find our perfect contentment in him? Do we find ourselves searching desperately for the love or approval of anyone else? Why should we care if those of this world either love or hate us? If we could truly enter into the wonder of belonging to him and his incredible desire for us, it would give us great peace in facing aloneness and perfect courage in our witness to the world about us. “Perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18).

As our praises flow like a fountain of water, we have no need to fear the response of men. Look to him and remember only this: “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.” One last thought on the fact that our Lord’s desire is “toward” us. This is an amazingly strong statement. In James 4:5, what is translated in the KJV as “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy” has been alternately translated “desires us enviously,” i.e.: the Lord has a tremendously intense, jealous desire for us to be his, and his alone. His desire for us is so much more passionate than ours for him! The Hebrew word for desire is only used one other time in the Old Testament, in Genesis 3:16. The word is teshuka and carries with it the meaning of “strong desire that impels to action”* or that “seeks loving approval and adoration.”**

Marvel with me for a while over the power of God’s love for us. After Eve sinned by doing the only thing her beloved Creator told her not to do, God pronounced this solemn judgment: “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16). Three millennia later (or perhaps even more), the power of God’s passion reverses this judgment, so that the lover takes on the “punishment” (if you will) for the woman’s sin. The wife’s understanding that “his desire is toward me” marks the end of the effects of the curse from Genesis 3:16 on the marriage love relationship.

Instead of the woman longing for her husband to love her and desperately seeking for his approval…instead of finding that her husband takes advantage of his superior strength by oppressing and enslaving her…instead of experiencing all the heartbreaking results of her own sin, the bride is enraptured with the security of knowing that her beloved husband passionately loves and desires her! She is not his slave, she is his queen. She is truly bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. She is his, but praise God, she can entrust herself freely to him because he loves her so utterly that he will not “lord” his lordship over her. What an astonishing proclamation of love’s triumph over sin!

*G. Lloyd Carr, The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary (Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984), 164.

**Paige Patterson, Song of Solomon (Chicago:  Moody, 1986), 110.

(The wedding dance is from the recent live-action Beauty and the Beast, which we enjoyed together this past month.)

Gold’n Blueberry Coffee Cake

It’s blueberry season in Michigan (and most of Northeastern America),  and for years we’ve had a cherished tradition of picking berries at Blueberry Hill. We wait with baited breath for U-pick strawberries in June, cherries in July,
and blueberries in August. For much of the summer, we enjoy abundant fruit! Most of the time we just serve blueberries fresh as part of the meal,  but also use them as a garnish with salads,  and when they’re really abundant, we start using them to bake pies and cakes.

Before the season ends, we usually try to squirrel a little away in jams. This year we also made a jar to send with Jonathan to Germany, because it’s his favorite jam and not common in Europe.

Sometime soon, I hope to write about making jam, but today I want to share an easy way to make a delicious blueberry coffee cake, which makes a fragrant start to a summer weekend morning, whether you’re hoping to curl up with a cup of coffee and the morning news on Saturday or heading out the door for church on Sunday. Here it is:

Golden Blueberry Coffee Cake

1 yellow cake mix (which normally calls for eggs, water, and oil) Follow the recipe, but only add 1/4 cup water (no more; the blueberries are very wet).

Sprinkle 3 cups of washed blueberries evenly over the top. (They sink in baking, so you don’t see much of them, but believe me, you’ll taste them!)

Make a “crumble” out of:
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

Drop/sprinkle the crumble mix evenly over the top.

Bake at 350°F. until the top is golden brown, which will likely take 45-50 minutes. Let it rest for about 5-10 minutes, but then serve it immediately. This coffee cake is so moist that it will get soggy if it sits around, so it’s best eaten fresh and hot! It doesn’t need any garnish, but if there’s any left over and you want to serve it as a dessert later on, I sometimes reheat it and serve whipped cream or ice cream on top.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24). May our words be as sweet as our meals!  🙂

 

Rain, Rumble, Rockin’ the Coast, and Rockin’ the Boat

Usually when Alan and I get up early and read our Bibles together, we can hear birds serenading the rising sun, but a couple of weeks ago, our background melody was the rumble of thunder and the drum of heavy rains. I didn’t think much of it—other than to enjoy it— but when it stopped, I could hear a singular bird caroling again.

Similarly, last weekend Alan and I spent Friday night at Grand Haven State Park, and the next morning as we were strolling along the boardwalk,  we were mesmerized by the deep, throaty roar of engines.   Three fleets of power boats, each led by a flag ship  (red, yellow, and the last green),  came out the channel of the Grand River like an armada off to war.   It touched something deep inside me, and I felt like crying.  It made me think of war, and I remembered Dunkirk.   We had no clue what was going on, but it was obviously a regatta of some kind, because when they got to the end of the Grand River channel,  they opened up their engines and went flying down the coast of Lake Michigan.  Have you seen Dunkirk yet? It’s gotten an 8.6 rating on IMDb,
and I think it must be be a stellar movie.  At least, when we visited the Normandy Coast of France last year,  I was totally overwhelmed by the heroism of the everyday Englishmen
who saved so many of the troops!   At any rate, I took videos of the three fleets as they roared off,  and what I noticed afterward
was the sound of a little cricket chirping in the grass beside me… something I’d been oblivious to while my attention was absorbed by the regatta.  Not long after the boaters were off,
we heard the wail of Coast Guard sirens and saw a helicopter.  One of the couples in the race was badly injured when they hit a big wave
on their way to Holland for what I learned was the “Rock the Coast” race.  I haven’t heard the end of the story,
but I know the wife was airlifted to Spectrum Hospital’s intensive care unit.  Probably very few of us ever enjoy the thrill of racing a power boat, but all of us experience  the race of life and hit heavy seas at times that rock our boats. Although we often fail to hear those quiet sounds until after the rumble of thunder, the roar of our engines, and we’ve gotten knocked around and injured, there is a voice that can be heard if we’re listening… the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, wooing us to Himself…offering to help us figure out our lives.  Are you listening? Are you willing?

And he said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?‘”  (1 Kings 19:11-13, ESV)

(Photo credits: I took the photos of the Rock the Coast Race last weekend in Grand Haven [except for the one of me, which my husband took], but I took the three of the Normandy Coast in the spring of 2016. The B&W photo of Dunkirk is from the Australian War Memorial [Wiki], and the other is a poster for the 2017 movie, Dunkirk, which is showing in theaters right now.)

What Can You Do When Your Grandkids Visit?

Before Amélie and Sophie came to visit for the month of July, a lady from their church asked what they liked best about visiting their grandmother. Amélie said her favorite thing to do was go for a boat ride with Nana, and Sophie said her favorite thing was eating Nana’s fudge!

Of course, I made sure we did both once I knew, but it also got me to thinking about all the things that seem to make vacations special for little ones, and a lot of the activities are very simple! In no particular order, here is my list:

Picnics in the backyardToasting marshmallows and eating smoresColoring, drawing, and writing love letters Hanging out and talking together Playing in the grass  Picking wildflowers and hunting for frogs Finding tiny grasshoppers by day and chasing tiny fire flies by nightPlaying at the local parks Renewing friendships with the cousins… and meeting new members of the family! Having tea parties Listening to story books  Picking wild berriesHelping Nana cook and set the table Eating lots of yummy food, and helping shop for more when the supplies run low. Having friends over to playPlaying games together and feeling the love! All of those things are part of the richest fabric of life and pretty much free, although there are also some special things available in our area,
such as digging in the sand and swimming in Lake Michigan.If you’re lucky enough to have an Aunt Brianna, that might include cookies!Snuggling with Grandma is free,
and it’s a very special way to get warmed up after a big swim! Snuggling with Grandpa is another winning activity, especially on a windy day!Watching the local fireworks shows is usually free around July 4th. Picking cherries, blueberries, or whatever is ripe at the local orchard is a big hit. And if you have access to a little lake, catching fish is the cat’s meow! Our kids and grand kids all love swimming, so I’m especially thankful that we live on a little lake! Another thing we all love is going to our local zoo, where there’re always something new and exciting happening! Finally, when Nana is all worn out, a special dinner out can be a huge treat! So, these are a few favorite things you can do without feeling pick-pocketed! If you’ve got other bright ideas, please share them, will you?

But whatever we do with our little ones, I think the most important thing is to make sure they feel loved, and for me, that includes making sure they know that God loves them too… more than any of us can ever even imagine!

The grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth” (Isaiah 38:17-19).

All Quiet on the Western Front

Nine years ago on July 25, I was writing about it being
“all quiet on the western front” here at Tanglewood Cottage.   My daughter’s boyfriend was visiting, and my son Jonathan was visiting my son Michael’s family, who were stationed in Germany.  Nine years later, my daughter is married and has three lovely children. Jon is also married (to a girl he met in Germany!), and they also have three darling daughters! On this July 25 (yesterday), Jon’s family  arrived safely in Germany,
where they’re going to be spending the fall semester
while Jonathan is on sabbatical from Moody.  What a whirlwind this past month has been!  Alan and Jon drove a moving van cross-country  so they could store Jon and Linda’s household goods here in GR until they find some place in Chicago next winter. Linda and the girls flew here, and we’ve been having a grand time;  the house has been bubbling and bursting with life. Not only does Dan’s family live in town, and we have Joel living with us, our oldest son’s family (four boys) and my daughter’s family visited,  and even my “Little Sister” Lizzie came for a visit! However, last Monday I put the last of our visitors on planes heading East
and came home to an empty house.  (Thankfully, Alan and Joel still live here,
but they were at work when I came back home.)  Have you ever noticed how therapeutic work is?  I worked like a beaver washing mountains of bedding and linens, cleaning…putting away toys and books and puzzles…  legos and trains and balls.  All the lovely wildflower bouquets have wilted,
and the only remnant of my flower girls are a bunch of clovers!   The house is straightened and is slowly becoming tidy and clean,
but the silence is pretty much deafening!

I was thinking about how exhausted I would be by the end of each day, and my nightly chorus in response to Alan’s inquiry into my condition: “Oh, the old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be!” My elderly mother, while living with us when my seven children were small, used to say sometimes, “I think I’d like to spend the afternoon with some old people.” It made me laugh (to myself, not at her), but now I understand!  Time flies! I wouldn’t trade a minute of such bursting life for a minute of rest, but I do know why the Lord created us so that we cease child bearing in our forties!  Are you exhausted and in the thick of family life? I truly do feel for you, but I hope you’re able to appreciate the beauty of exploding life and love.  When the “war” is over, it will be quiet—and that’s wonderful too…and the way God intends, I believe—but tranquility is also often a segue toward death.                                                                Life is sure messy,                                                                but life is good! Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox” (Proverbs 14:4)  “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

 

 

Coffee, the World, and Jesus, But Not Necessarily In That Order

It’s such a catchy title that I couldn’t improve on it for my post, and frankly, Ron DeMiglio’s entire book continues to live up to expectation! It’s easy to read and hard to put down, makes you laugh and makes you think. What’s not to love?

Ron spent twenty-five years traveling the world selling coffee for a living but following Jesus for a life. His book,  Coffee, the World, and Jesus, But Not Necessarily In That Order, is a collection of 28 loosely spun tales with clever titles like “The Hypocrite Oath,” “A Tale of Two Pities,” “His Grapes, My Wrath,”  and “An Affinity for Salinity.” Ron not only has a way with words, he can spin gold from coffee grounds!

Each reflection starts with a title geared to pique your curiosity and then lists a location (which pretty much includes every continent but penguin territory) and the purpose for his trip. With that fabric, he weaves tapestries from around the world (super fun for me as a travelogian), explaining what he learned with insightful charm and light-hearted transparency. Every story made me smile; every object lesson made me ponder; every chapter ended with this mantra: “Shun Common!”

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur (or church planter or missionary), I’ll share one particularly helpful bit of wisdom from the book to whet your appetite. In the context of explaining how businesses are unpredictable and don’t all succeed despite outward expectations, he mentions what makes for a prime location: “High visibility, easy access, ample exterior signage, adequate parking, great foot and drive-by traffic, a high per capita income, and good mix of residential and retail, low crime, some form of mass transit nearby, and a favorable lease rate.” Obviously, if you have ministry instead of money in mind, then your CEO is the Holy Spirit, and He might direct slightly otherwise in some areas, but even thriving ministries have to be financially sustained somehow, so I think this list is worth considering no matter what your objective.

Last, but not least, a few quotable quotes. I hope you read the book (if you’re local, you can borrow mine), but if you don’t, I know Ron has a heart to share the abundance God has given him, so here are a few samples from his espresso bean:

“Spotting the Savior’s hand in the obscure and trivial makes me feel uncommonly loved.” (And, I hope it does that for you too!)

“Correction without a Holy Spirit-led concern for the individual is as useful as barbed-wire dental floss.”

“The history of a person has absolutely no bearing on the authenticity of their salvation. If they have truly repented and taken and passed the Jesus-acceptance exam, they are clean and right before God.”

“Life and joy are in the obedience, not the outcome.”

“I don’t feel intellectually inferior for recognizing the divine. I refuse to cower to fiction dolled up as logic.”

“Only the ethically blind can’t recognize and acknowledge their own duplicity.”

“But grace isn’t an excuse for me to bleed my casual sin all over those around me. Based on my acknowledgment of the monumental sacrifice that was made on my behalf, grace should be the tourniquet that stems the flow of my unholy activity.”

One last pearl of wisdom, not from Ron’s coffee table but from our Father: Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established
(Proverbs 4:26).

Stitches, Glue, and Binding – How God Heals

Today I’m losing Jon’s entire family, who are leaving for Germany, as well as my “little sister” Lizzie, who’s also visiting right now, so I suspect the blog I’ve been trying to write won’t actually get finished until tomorrow. Meanwhile, one of my girlfriends just sent me this reflection on her first-ever trip to the hospital for stitches, and I thought you might appreciate it too:

The accident happened in just a moment that I wished I could take back.  While pitting an avocado, the knife slipped and I cut my finger more deeply than I have ever cut myself.  With the initial shock, I did not feel pain nor did the wound bleed – for a moment.  As the shock wore off, the blood poured forth and the pain set in.

I knew the cut looked too deep for a Band-Aid to keep closed so I asked my teenage daughter, “Do you think I need stitches?”  She looked up from doing her homework and saw the paper towel wrapped around my finger to stem the now heavily-bleeding wound, and her face turned pale as the blood drained from it.  She asked, “Do you need me to drive you to Urgent Care?”  Then, “Couldn’t you shriek or something to let me know rather than just appearing with a blood-soaked paper towel around your finger so I’m a little more prepared for the shock?”

Thankfully, a friend was on her way over to visit, so she took me to Urgent Care.  She offered, “I can drive you, talk to you and distract you with funny Face Book videos; I just can’t see blood!” When she found out that I had never had emergency stitches before, she suggested, “You can check this off your bucket list!”  “But it wasn’t on my bucket list,” I replied.  She asked, “Don’t you ever write and add things to lists just to check them off?”  Perhaps with tasks, but not this!

As I folded my hands in prayer a few days later, the wound was sore and tender.  When the stitches were removed after 7-10 days, one end of the cut was not laying flat and healing as well as the other end.  A nurse friend who took out the sutures offered to use skin glue and wrap Steri-strips around to better help hold the cut closed.  She said, “We’ll look next week and see how it’s doing.”

When the next week came, she observed, “It’s getting better; it’s healing from the inside.  But I think we should glue and wrap it again to help close it up more and minimize scarring.”  After one more week, the glue and strips were removed and the cut looked much better and well on the way toward healing, although still tender with likely scarring.  In addition to the physical process, God used the incident as an object lesson of how He heals other wounds.  I reflected on Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Just like my nurse friend described my wound healing from the inside, similarly, God works and heals from the inside.  He does soul work that no one else can do.  Psalm 34:18 – “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  He alone can illumine the darkness within.

I also see how He binds up support from the outside, much like my skin glue and Steri-strips, to help hold us together and protect when we’re wounded.  He gives His Word, friends and family in Christ who aid in support of healing.

Whether the wounds are accidental, self-inflicted, or caused by others, He is able to heal and redeem. Yes, there is still tenderness, scarring, and time needed in the process of healing, “’But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” in Jeremiah 30:17.  And He promises to redeem and heal fully in the future, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Will you ask for His help and trust Him to bring healing to your wounds?  Do you recognize the ways in which He binds up and heals with support of others?

“Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for You are my praise” (Jeremiah 17:14).  —Guest writer: Lisa Walkendorf

(Sorry for your accident, but thank you for sharing, Lisa!)

Rise Up, My Love (244): What’s Hidden Under Your Palate?

Song of Solomon 7:9 “…that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.” What in the world (or in heaven!) does this mean? The verb translated “goeth down” is the Hebrew halak, also rendered “flowing, going, or walking” in other passages (Carr, 163). The Hebrew word translated “sweetly” is meshar, more literally translated as “evenness; equity; smoothness; uprightness; righteously.”* It is the same Hebrew word used in 1:4, “We will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.”   I believe there is a key in this repetition from an earlier theme, but let’s come back to it in a few moments. What the KJV renders “cause…to speak” is the Hebrew dabab, and is unknown in Hebrew apart from this use, although the Akkadian dababu “plot; plan” and the Arabic dabub, “talebearer” may be cognates according to Carr (163).** Other translations use such alternate terms as “gliding” or “flowing gently” (although why…I don’t know!). The last two Hebrew words in the passage are sipte (literally rendered “lips”) and yesenim (“sleeping ones”). Perhaps one of the more accurate alternate translation for this portion of the phrase is: “stirring the lips of sleepers”.*** (Gordis, 97).   This seems consistent with both the literal meaning of the Hebrew words and the KJV but does not shed much additional light on what the text means. So, put it all together, and what do we have? First, the subject is “the roof of thy mouth,” i.e. the wife’s palate. Everyone knows what the literal roof of the mouth is, so physically there’s no mystery. It seems most likely that King Solomon was indeed commenting on how much he loved french-kissing his wife (although the pleasure didn’t yet have such a name, since there were no “French” in those days!)   The rest of the verse is still somewhat of a puzzle in the physical realm, although the best explanation I found was this: “…one thing emerges as certain: Shulamith’s kisses have an intoxicating effect on Solomon. However, there were no ill side effects, and Solomon could enjoy this ‘wine’ continually.”* (Patterson, 109).

Spiritually, I would hazard a guess that the palate refers to the highest subject of the wife’s speech…and I can think of no loftier subject than the praises of her Lord and God, which “flow sweetly…uprightly.” Expanding a little on the thoughts of Henry van Dyke, what is a more noble delight than taking the colors and forms of our life’s experience and weaving them into a beautiful garment to clothe our thoughts of God? So, the taste of his wife’s praises are like the “best wine,” i.e. his greatest joy. Perhaps it is the husband’s use of this imagery that reminds the bride of her earlier exclamation: “We will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee” (1:4). His love is even more wonderful than her greatest earthly joy, and all those who are “upright” (true believers?) love him too.

Gary Smalley, in his wonderful series, Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships, points out that men need to feel “adequate.” Let’s add that to our list of “A” words: assure him that he’s more than adequate! Adulate him, even as our Lord loves adulation and praise! Could it have been such a thought that caused her to join him at this point and add, “for my beloved!” Her praises are all for him! There is no one else—there is nothing else—that causes her lips to overflow with such joyous speech. Her praises flow “sweetly” and “smoothly,” in righteousness and uprightness. There is nothing rough or sullied or impure about the praises or the one being praised; all is holy and beautiful…as is our Lord!    “Causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.” After a month of asking everyone wise friend I knew, even “men in high places”…although no one spontaneously interpreted the passage the same way I did, no one refuted my interpretation either. Could it be that the “sleeping ones” are those who are “sleeping” in sin, i.e. the unbelievers, or at the least those who because of sin have become insensible to spiritual things?  It is the bride who is speaking. She is speaking in praise of her bridegroom husband, the Lord Jesus Christ. She is extolling his wonders. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that the highest thoughts of her heart—her adulation of her wonderful savior and king—will be so irresistibly sweet that it will arouse those who have been stupefied into lethargy by their sinful lives to speak…to “plot,” to “plan” to “tell tales”…to ask questions…to be aroused into dissatisfaction with their existential lives and search for this marvelous love and lover? Oh, Lord, may our speech be as sweet to you! May our praises cause even the lips of those who are sleeping yet in their sins to speak of you and search for you!

(All photos taken a few days ago at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids.)

*Paige Patterson, Song of Solomon (Chicago:  Moody, 1986), 108-109.

** G. Lloyd Carr, The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary (Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984), 163.

*** R. Gordis, The Song of Songs and Lamentations, (KTAV, 1974), 97.

Making Homemade Berry and Maple Syrups

What’s your very favorite breakfast? My all-time favorite breakfast out is the Cracker Barrel’s Sunrise Special with blackberry syrup. Actually, I like making my own pancake breakfast at home even better, because I put blueberries in the pancakes and make enough for one person, not one giant. Nevertheless, eating breakfast out on a rare occasion is a memorable experience, and if we’re anywhere near a Cracker Barrel, that’s where I want to eat!One morning while our grand children were visiting, my daughter-in-law Carleen taught the kids how to make baskets out of leaves pinned together with tiny twigs, and they walked down the lane collecting black raspberries and mulberries. Instead of eating them as hors d’oeuvres, they brought almost all of them home and asked me to make some syrup for their pancakes. How could I resist??

Syrup can be made with any type of berries, but here’s what we did:

Yummy Blackberry Syrup

1 quart washed blackberries (I supplemented what the children picked with some from the freezer)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
(or, the sugar and water can be replaced by 1/2 cup honey and 1 tablespoon water)

Heat in a saucepan until it starts to boil, stirring occasionally, then turn it down to medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until it’s the consistency of syrup. If the berries are really juicy, and the syrup seems too thin, you can add 2 tablespoons of corn starch to help thicken it. (Whisk to help the corn starch dissolve, and then continue to whisk it until the starch thickens a bit.) Taste test it. If it lacks flavor, you can also add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, but really just the first three ingredients above should be all you need. This can also work with any other type of berries, or even cherries. If you want a “compote” rather than a syrup, just add more corn starch until you get the consistency you want. Serve it up with coffee, bacon, and eggs, and top it with some whipped cream, and you’ll have a breakfast so memorable that no one will beg to go out!  🙂

Imitation Maple Syrup

By the way, we didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, and we always made our syrup from scratch: 1 cup sugar in the bottom of a pan, cover with just enough water to leave a thin layer of water over the top, boil until the sugar is completely dissolved, and add 1/2 teaspoon of maple flavoring. Serve immediately while it’s hot!  Some of my kids still prefer this to genuine maple syrup. It will crystalize within hours, so only make as much as you’re planning to use for that particular occasion.

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
” (Psalm 119:103)