“You can choose to live in the past—or choose to live past it. Make peace with your past before it tears you to pieces” (Linda Swindling, Ask Outrageously: The Secret To Getting What You Want).
Ready for some encouraging quotes about peace from around the world? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been struggling with anxiety lately, despite concerted efforts to “Keep calm and pray on.” Between COVID concerns, racial injustice, economic insecurities, rioting, looting, social isolation versus taking some chances on opening social channels again . . . that along with my beloved husband turning 70 and planning to retire in a few weeks . . . well, I’m ready for something to soothe my soul and comfort my heart. I hope what I’ve found will be a balm for you as well . . . so please take a few minutes to meander with me through french gardens while pondering wise thoughts!
“The first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself . . . Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility” (Nelson Mandela).
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jesus, recorded in John 16:33).
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity . . . Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” (Melody Beattie).
“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you” (Job 22:21).
“May you find peace and purpose within friendships and fruitfulness without” (— Sara Ewing What? You’ve never heard of Sara Ewing? Okay, so she’s not famous; but she’s a very wise friend of mine!)
“Peace is not made at the Council table or by treaties, but in the hearts of men” (Herbert Clark Hoover, who was America’s president from 1929-1933, during our Great Depression).
“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace” (Dalai Lama).
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee” (Augustine of Hippo in Confessions).
“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace” (Mahatma Gandhi).
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jesus, recorded in John 14:27).
May 8, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe—a national holiday in France. Last week I shared with you a little bit about Jérôme, the french catechist who loves Jesus. In corresponding about VE-Day celebrations, Jérôme reminded me that “after war comes peace.”
What a comforting reminder for each of us during this season of world-wide unrest and “war” on COVID! Someday—we don’t know when—there will be peace again.
During our trip to France, I was touched over and over again by seeing this lived out in nature. All along the Normandy Coast, wildflowers and soothing fields of green grasses and moss were softening the terrain . . . overcoming destruction with beauty.
Did you know that “peace” is mentioned 420 times in the Bible? Something about the quiet glory of wildflowers taking root in rubble and along the rugged cliff sides made me think of peace.
Peace can come to our hearts if we will open them to God’s Holy Spirit and allow him to quiet us. In this light, please let me share a few wildflowers from France and a handful of my favorite verses on peace from the Bible:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,8).
“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).
“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11).
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37:37).
“He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me” (Psalm 55:18).
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
“Love the truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).
“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17).
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
“In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth” (Psalm 72:7).
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).
If you live in the Grand Rapids area and haven’t experienced Rebecca Louise Law’s “The Womb” exhibit at Meijer Garden, I want to encourage you to take time to visit before this spectacular artistic creation ends on March 1.*
What is it? An entire gallery filled with a million flowers and plants from Rebecca’s personal collection plus ten thousand botanic treasures gleaned from Meijer Garden, all dried and strung from the ceiling in delicate chains on tiny copper wires.
Why? To give you an intimate and immersive experience of feeling like you’re personally enveloped in a warm cocoon . . . complete with the comforting sound of a beating heart.
In Rebecca Louise Law’s own words: “I like to capture and treasure small beautiful natural objects to create an artwork that can be observed without the pressure of time. Preserving, treasuring, celebrating and sharing the beauty of the Earth with the world is what drives me.”
And, who is Rebecca Law? She’s a British installation artist—born in 1980, grew up in a little village in the U.K, and studied at Newcastle University’s School of Arts and Cultures in England.
(As a fun side note, my daughter-in-law Gerlinde also studied at Newcastle University about the same time!) Law has exhibited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Royal Academy of Arts and the V&A (all in London) as well as in galleries in NYC, San Francisco, Athens, France, etc.
So, this is a young and upcoming internationally acclaimed artist with a heart for beauty and nature . . . and the warmth of the womb, exquisitely portrayed through blown glass and paintings which compliment her sublimely sensual experience (in the best possible way) of being encompassed in a womb of flowers.
As I wandered through the quiet beauty, I felt more than anything a silent witness to the sanctity and miraculous nature of life. And death. The natural flow from life to death in the drying flowers.
I tried to imagine 1,010,000 flowers all fresh and alive with color and fragrance. Can you imagine?
Although I’ve been back repeatedly and taken all my favorite family and friends who’ve visited since the exhibit opened last September, it wasn’t until last weekend—strolling through the halls with Alan—that we realized he’d somehow missed seeing this exhibit!
We’d been there the weekend before and meandered through all the snow-covered gardens outside.
We’d visited Meijer Garden with the family at December when we admired all the Christmas trees adorned so brightly with ornaments from countries around the world.
How was it possible that he’d missed seeing this stunning exhibition? We had to walk right past the door into the art gallery on every visit, where the name of the latest exhibit is proclaimed clearly on the wall.
Is it possible that you—like Alan—are walking right past the door to a wonderful opportunity every day of your life without taking time to read the signs or explore the goodness within? It’s so easy to focus on what we know and already enjoy without taking time to look around. In this world of distractions and time measured mechanically rather than spiritually, are you missing out?
God is a God of abundance and joy, which He offers to each of us. Jesus taught in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The psalmist also reflected this thought in the Old Testament: “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:7-9).
Although I think for many of us (at least in America), trusting under the shadow of God’s wings often leads to physical abundance, it doesn’t always. I don’t believe in a “wealth gospel.” However, I firmly believe in a gospel that brings spiritual abundance: “They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness” (Psalm 145:7).
Notice what is abundant here: goodness and righteousness. If you want a life blessed by an abundance of goodness, righteousness, and the pleasures that flow from a life lived in the light of God’s presence, then please, please put your trust in God, our refuge and fortress, and in his Son, Jesus, our Lord and our Savior!
“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:2).
“Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:27-29).
*This exhibit has been running since September and will continue through February until Sunday, March 1.
If you go Sunday, March 1, it will be super crowded, but you will also be able to experience the first day of “Butterflies are Blooming” in the conservatory, which is always like a gulp of springtime air for winter-weary hearts. So, if you don’t mind crowds, that would be another excellent option. Also, the first photo is from Meijer Garden’s website. The rest are mine, taken at Meijer Garden.
Among the world’s most beautiful living plants, I can’t think of anything more gorgeous than flowers. How about you? Trees can be majestic and fill me with awe, but for sheer pleasure, there is no botanical sensory experience I enjoy more than visiting a lush flower garden bursting with extravagantly colored blooms . . . especially if they perfume the air! The profusion of shapes and sizes . . . the uniqueness of each blossom . . . I sometimes feel like I’ve died and gone to a Thomas Kinkaide heaven!
Therefore, it was with great joy that I embarked on a memory tour of my favorite lily photos to share with you while meditating on today’s texts: Matthew 6:28-30 “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Luke 12:27 “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?“
When I typed “lily” into my photo library’s search bar, it brought up 434 pictures (about 300 of which weren’t actually lilies), so the first thing I realized is that there are many flowers that look like lilies but aren’t.
Even within the generous group of flowers that I always thought of as “types of lilies”— with common names containing the word “lily” . . . most of them are not actually part of the genus “lilium,” and are therefore not true lilies by botanical class or definition!
For instance, all the gorgeous “water lilies” —lotus flowers—found around the world are not “true” lilies!
Nor are any of the common (but splendid) water lilies that choke the perimeter of our lake part of the lilium family. I am so surprised!!
The thousands of lilies of the valley that crowd the edges of our woods are not true lilies!
Not even the tiny trout lilies that dapple our woods in spring can be called genuine lilies! I was amazed when I learned this (just now, through study for this post)! 😦
Even this delicate “Peruvian lily” that I noticed growing near Iguaçu Falls is not a member of the “lilium” genus. So, the first thing I learned in considering the lilies is that there are many flowers called lilies which are not genuine lilies.
As I believe you are someone interested in studying what Jesus taught, I think it’s worth considering: Are you a genuine Christian?
The world is full of beautiful people, many of whom may call themselves Christians or think of themselves as Christians without truly be a part of the genuine family of Christians. Jesus taught us that: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). How can a man be born again? “As 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 1:11-13).
It is my hope and prayer that if you are reading this, you either are—or will become—a true child of God through faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior!
All true children of God—whether or not rich and part of some magnificent church . . .
or alone, growing in some remote area of the world . . .
each of us is precious to God and can claim the promise intrinsic in what Jesus taught:
“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30).
Any of you feel pretty as a picture (or pretty as a picture of a flower)? For me, I say, “Not a chance!”
Most lilies (particularly the common “tiger lilies” that grow everywhere around our home in Michigan), put on an extravagant display in July, but each flower only lasts for a single day, and then withers, often being replaced by another emerging bud.
Although the (literally) hundreds of lilies growing around our home have to fear being eaten by the deer, they do not fret over what they’re going to wear!
They don’t toil all night spinning the dress of gold they’ll wear on the morrow!
And yet, have you ever met any person robed any more elegantly than a lily?
I may just be a sucker for flowers, but I wouldn’t trade the beauty and perfume of a dazzling lily for the most elaborately adorned woman. Would you? (I’m not talking about the woman, I’m talking about how beautiful her dress is . . . and maybe you would think her dress is more lovely than a flower. That’s fine too, but I would not.)
Regardless of how much you prize clothing and shoes and jewelry and accessories, the point is this: God will take care of us if we’ll let him, and He doesn’t want us to spend all our time worrying and fretting about not having or being. He has a better plan for us!
God wants us to grow where we’re planted and concentrate on being and loving, not having and doing! Sound like a good plan?!
“I’d rather go to a Dime-Dog ball game than watch a boring Shakespeare play.” Yikes! Times are changing! In the light of that comment, and in the spirit of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, I couldn’t help but write a (somewhat playful) response expressing my preferences too.
What was considered the height of literary wit four hundred years ago is out of vogue with most of Gen Z, and maybe Gen X too!
As I admitted last time I wrote, even I found a walk in the park more refreshing than a night at the theater!
So, here’s to my Maker, in honor of his glorious being, his creation, and His immutable Word, which stands above time and is eternal, surpassing the eloquence of even the most revered of our English-speaking writers!
Shall l compare Thee to a summer play? Thou art more worthy and more glorious: The winds of change oft temper what men say, Their words, once apt, become notorious. Words melt and molt; they fade and lose their voice. What once was wise, youth’s wisdom doth suspect. The audience today rejects past choice And says it’s not politically correct. Though wit be wit and dark be dark through time, Though love and life and death collide with pow’r, No light shines like Your canticle sublime, No truth excels the wisdom of Your bow’r. Yea, thine eternal grandeur shall extend Thy Word still pure, unchanging to the end.
“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160).
“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:24-25).
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” (Proverbs 30:5)
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5).
Learning from the Giants, by John C. Maxwell, started off a little slow for me, but by the end, I was very happy to have persevered in listening my way through it. Maxwell imagined sitting in his study for a day, being visited by a number of the Bible’s great leaders. As I was usually driving while listening, I resorted to writing down my favorite memories of what Maxwell had to say after arriving at my destination, so they may not be perfect quotes, but I wanted to share some provocative bits of advice gleaned from his studies and commend the book to you as encouraging reading. (P.S.—You know how I love to share photos, too, so I picked out some pictures from my last trip to Mackinac Island, although they were chosen more for beauty than connection to the text.)
Elijah: *God loves you, even on your worst days! *Wait, serve, and learn while you wait. *Our purpose must always be more important to us than our position. *Find your purpose, and then lose your life fulfilling your purpose. *Brokenness always precedes blessing.
Job: *Character is more important than reputation, so work on growing your character. *Reputation is like a shadow; it has no substance. *Character is what will enable you to withstand tribulation. *At the end of Job’s life, he was filled with promise and not pain anymore!
Deborah: *Be prepared for God to surprise you. *Expect the unexpected. *You must deal with your past before God will give you a future. *God can make nothing out of you until you realize you are nothing without God. (Editorial Note: We are always the objects of God’s love, which gives us great worth, but I think Maxwell was pointing out that God loves the humble in heart.)
Jonah: *God is a God of second chances. *Mercy always runs downhill. *But—think about what you missed by not living right from the beginning!
Joshua: *God will only give you the promises you claim.
Daniel: *Be motivated by conviction, not convenience. *Greatness isn’t doing all you can do; it’s allowing God to do all He wants to do through you. *You will never lose your way if you never lose your why. *Courage is like muscle; it is strengthened by exercise.
“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).
Last weekend we had the joy of a visit from Bruce, who was one of Alan’s closest friends during residency days and with whom Alan shared his first practice in Ann Arbor. Bruce married in his thirties, so we knew him as a single man, watched him fall in love, and rejoiced in his marriage. Bruce and his wife were best of friends! She was his greatest fan, and they were a “match made in heaven.” All that sweetness came to a bitter end five years ago when Lisa died of stage IV colon cancer.
There are no words to comfort someone who is grieving the loss of someone they love deeply. No words will ameliorate the pain, but there are plenty of words that can feel like sharp knives piercing an already wounded heart.
Because Alan lost both his parents in a tragic event when he was only twenty-nine, and because he is a geriatrician who has cared for many dying patients over the past forty years, I used to stay tucked under his wing when we attended funerals, wanting to be present but feeling totally helpless as far as having any comforting words to offer, knowing that what I would imagine might comfort me could cause stinging pain to my friend.
Now that Alan and I are nearing seventy, and more and more of our friends are experiencing life-threatening illnesses, I’ve been trying to learn more about how to comfort those who are experiencing great loss. In that quest, I listened to an audio book called Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love: Daily Meditations to Help You Through the Grieving Process, by Raymond R. Mitsch and Lynn Brookside.
There are a plethora of books on grief recovery, and this particular one wasn’t my all-time favorite, but there are several ideas I want to pass on. It also reminded me that if you are grieving, or if you love someone who is grieving, there are many resources out there, probably most of which will offer at least some helpful insights. If you’re grieving, consider reading what others have experienced on their journeys of sorrow. For many, there’s truth in the old adage that “misery loves company.” (However, Bruce tells me that what really soothed him was the still, small voice, not the whirlwind of other voices.) If you enjoy writing, consider starting a journal about your personal pilgrimage. Writing can be one of the most therapeutic exercises on earth!
So, here are my favorite takeaways from Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love (along with some photos from Meijer Garden, where Alan and I took Bruce for a quiet stroll after church last Sunday afternoon).
“‘I feel your pain.’ Those four words say it all. You don’t have to have answers, just be present.” Personally, I’m not sure if “I feel your pain” is adequate, since I usually feel like their pain is often beyond my comprehension, since I haven’t lost a spouse or child yet. Nevertheless, Bruce (and others) confirm that saying nothing is better than saying anything trivial, but being present with the person is crucially helpful. Listening with compassion and without any criticism or shock over whatever they might express is also a healing balm. Their wounds are raw and sometimes ugly. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). Don’t try to play the Holy Spirit and “cure” them. Pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort and cure them.
“Don’t stare constantly at either the sun or death.” If you’re grieving loss, don’t allow yourself to spend all your waking hours experiencing pain, or your soul will become as blind as someone who stares constantly into the sun. Instead, look into the face of God to find “safe” sunshine and beauty to relieve your aching heart. Ditto if you’re trying to encourage someone else. Don’t PREACH! Walk alongside your friend in some beautiful place where she/he will feel refreshed. “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us” (Psalm 90:17).
“The seemingly little things you grieve are not little! The whole fabric of your life has been rent!” I thought this was profound. The authors went on to say we need to allow ourselves to experience and process pain without trying to minimize or ignore it. Each person’s pain is unique and probably unbearable. “It will be alright,” or “Someday it will be better” doesn’t help present-tense and is like rubbing salt in the wound. Better to say nothing than try to smooth the mountain into a mole hill. It’s NOT!! (BTW, God can overcome our mountains: “The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (Song of Solomon 2:8).
“I thought it would be too hard to say goodbye until I refused to do so.” This point is good to process personally if you’re grieving, and I suppose there may be a time in which you can share the authors’ experiences (and both authors were writing from the wells of their own grief), but be careful on this one. Each person’s time to feel released from the intense sense of grieving out of loyalty (which follows grieving out of personal loss) is so unique that the grieving person may feel you (as the one who wants to comfort) are just pushing the person to heal so that you and she/he can both “get on with life.” My friend still wears his wedding ring after five years as a widower. That’s just fine! He’ll take it off when and if he’s ever ready to! Don’t push. Pray!! “Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant” (Psalm 119:76, and for the comfort of our loved ones).
“Suicide is a permanent end for a temporary problem” (the temporary problem being grief). I’ve never been suicidal, but I’ve known a number of people who have suicided, and I definitely think some people have a genetic pre-disposition for turning to this age-old solution to chronic pain. God wants us to turn to Him in our grief (and all our troubles). He does not want us to take matters into our own hands and “end it all.”
Think of the prodigal son. When he returned to his father, his father’s arms were open, and the prodigal found forgiveness and a whole new life opening up to him. I’m not saying we are “prodigals” when we grieve, but I am saying that God is there, whether or not we’ve stayed on the farm or run off to some far country. He is waiting for us to come back and rest under the covert of his wings. He loves us. As long as He wants us on earth, He has good reasons for our being here, even if we don’t see them or understand them. “He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death” (Psalm 68:20).
Another verse to consider for yourself (but would probably not be good to offer someone else who is grieving) is Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” We’re responsible for living with integrity and faith; God is responsible for choosing when we are born and when we die. He is also available to help us every day from birth to death and offers us eternal life through Jesus Christ, his Son, which is—to me—the ultimate comfort in the death of loved ones who have trusted in Jesus as their Lord and Savior: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Do your loved ones know God and Jesus Christ? Do you?
July is the perfect time to visit Mackinac Island!
And, the eight-mile road around the island on Highway M-185 is the perfect venue for taking young kids on a big biking adventure, because it’s the only highway in America where no cars are allowed!
So, a couple of weeks ago we headed north with our two oldest sons and their families on a U.P. “roots” tour, including a trip across the Straits of Mackinac on a Shepler ferry boat to spend a day on Mackinac Island.
It was a picture-perfect day, and we were all in very high spirits!
Although the nine grandchildren are living in suburban California and Belgium now (read that, no easy, safe places for long bike adventures), they were all up for the challenge, so the first stop was to get fitted on bikes.
Mike pulled the baby in a Burley, and Grace had a trail-a-bike for their four-year-old. Actually, trailer bikes (which have wheels for pedaling while allowing the parent to control the balance) are recommended for the 4-7 year-old set, but our two seven-year-olds opted to ride their own bikes, which was very brave of them!
Alan and I took a little razzing from the attendant for what he must have considered a non-feminist approach to modern cycling, but we opted for a bicycle built for two. After (literally) more than 50 years of riding such bicycles around the island together, we weren’t about to be talked out of our old-fashioned favorite.
There are many advantages to riding on a bicycle built for two! You’re always together; you can hear, talk, and be super close to each other at all times (very bonding).
The other advantage, at least for me, is having total freedom to take photographs of all the gorgeous scenery as we pass by!
Highway M-185 is full of flowers on both sides of the road all through the summer, so all you have to do is avoid horses and other people while soaking in the beauty!
We did take numerous stops along the way to enjoy all the byways, including a little wetland walk, where we learned that there are over 415 varieties of wildflowers on the island!
We have lots of budding (and grown) botanists in the family, so the kids stopped to check out many of the flowers and captivating critters.
I’m not sure if it was the flowers, the the gorgeous water, or too many cousins riding too close together, but one of the seven-year-olds took a bad spill at one point!
I’m sure Judah was in a lot of pain from the bad scrape on one leg, but after taking a breather to regain his shaken confidence, he was willing to take off on his own again. It’s good to be tough!!
Thankfully, it wasn’t too much longer before we reached the halfway point! Whew!
We stopped for lunch at British Landing, where lots of seagulls as well as people hang out.
Just in case you’re wondering, the seagulls are not only beautiful and interested in people, they LOVE good food as much as humans!
We stopped for hotdogs and hamburgers at the Cannonball snack shop.
Everybody was “starving” by the time we got there, so it was a really welcome break.
(Of course, some of us are still pretty insistent about what we like best for lunch!)
Other highlights of the bike adventure included skipping stones,
riding beneath tree-lined canopies of fragrant cedars,
enjoying all the spectacular hotels, homes, and gardens that line the island,
and our long-standing tradition of stopping at “The Devil’s Kitchen,” a series of limestone caves. (Can you see the Devil’s eyes and nose?)
When Alan and I were kids in the 60’s, and when Aaron and Mike were kids in the 80’s, we were free to scramble up the rocks, and that’s exactly what kids do if left to their own devices, but today there are signs prohibiting such pleasures. 😦
However, nobody can stop a child from having fun and being just a little scared!
I think everybody was happy to return victorious from our big ride. (Aaron and his oldest had to go an extra two miles to qualify for a boy scout badge, but they are also extra tough!!)
After returning our bikes, we wandered down Main Street, checking out all the possibilities for an afternoon treat to celebrate conquering the trail.
When our kids were little, I usually made fudge to bring with us (to keep down the expense), but this trip our generous (and rather more affluent than we were) sons bought a little fudge and then let each of their kids pick a treat of their own.
Despite being dead tired, I didn’t hear any complaining as we waited for the ferry!
It seemed like the perfect end to a perfect day, although I was a little worried about Judah and wondered if his spill on the bike had traumatized him. So, I asked him what his favorite parts of the day had been.
His response was unequivocal: “The trip to the candy store . . . and the bike ride!”
That made me super happy, but it also made me think about my own life. I’ve been on a journey. Most of it has been really great, but like Judah—I had one bad fall near the beginning and got pretty scraped up! However, wouldn’t it be sad if we let our hurts and pains and accidents make us too skiddish to keep trying? And, isn’t it wonderful that we have a Father who watches over us, encouraging us along, and who promises to reward us at the end?! Do you know Him? Are you trusting in Him? God is good. Life is good. It’s not all picnics and vacation days, but it’s all good for us when we let God be our Father and never stop trying!
“Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast” (Psalm 36:5-6).
Another day of gentle rains! I want to publicly thank God for these wonderful rains, because I’ve been praying for them!
In the process of building an addition, our yard became a muddy mess! Alan carefully sowed grass seed everywhere, but every time we turned our backs, the geese would come and gobble up the profits! One of my daily tasks has become chasing the geese away so the grass has a chance to grow. (And then, I have to scatter more seed after they leave.) I feel like Disney’s little cocker spaniel, Lady!
Our yard covers more than an acre, and to water the lawn with a hose and sprinkler would take more time, energy, and hose-length than we possess, so I’ve been asking the Lord to bless us with gentle rains to help the grass seed sprout and take root before it all gets washed away or eaten up.
God has been answering my prayers! We have had one of the most wonderfully cool springs I can ever remember, with the perfect blend of sunshine and soft showers!
The grass has taken root, and we’ve become hopeful that—short of a disastrous drought—the grass may flourish. Perhaps by next summer we will have enough soft grass to support both the grazing of geese and the romping of grand children!
Well, and enough for the wild turkeys too . . .
And the deer, especially now that the herd has a number of new fawns to feed!
Working hard to plant and protect the grass, and praying for rain and sunshine—which only God can provide—reminds me of a greater task we’ve been given: that of sharing spiritual “seed” (the Word of God) with others. “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass” (Dueteronomy 32:2).
God has been merciful and kind to me, and he will provide for you too if you’ll surrender your heart and will to Jesus. He calls each of us with a quiet, gentle voice that can only be heard in our hearts. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
“Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great” (Psalm 18:35).
Do you ever wake up on a rainy morning and say to yourself, “I just need to go for a walk!”?
Yesterday was one of those days for me, so I donned my raincoat, grabbed my trusty umbrella (to protect my camera), and took off to see what I could see!
It was as I thought—absolutely beautiful!
The amazing beauty of springtime is always exhilarating and glorious, isn’t it?!
First I walked along the lane to check out the woods and swamp.
At first, I didn’t see anything of particular interest, but then I saw a movement in the distance. It wasn’t until I was able to zoom in with my camera that I got a clear picture: a pair of wood ducks resting on a log, trying to negotiate the rain. They kept shaking their wings, and I smiled, thinking about the saying that something is as insignificant as “water off a duck’s back.” Not if you’re a duck! They worked hard to shake all the rain off their feathers!
I’ve been meditating my way through the Book of Psalms in the mornings lately (and I most highly recommend Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David for eloquent insights on the these comforting scriptures)! We need a lot of life’s drenching rains to grow spiritually. Bless God for rain; without it we would all die!
That morning, I was meditating on Psalm 34:3, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” I feel like just one little wild rose, but one blossom in the midst of a cluster of wild roses can still attract attention . . . and may any attention we attract always magnify our wondrous creator, who has “made everything beautiful in his time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)!
I thought about how much more we can see when something is magnified. Without my camera, and it’s wonderful capacity for magnifying life, I would have known it was raining, but I wouldn’t have been able to recognize the distant pair of wood ducks or seen the tiny droplets of water dripping off the edge of the lily pads. May those of us who know God be like magnifying lenses for those who don’t.
Although I could smell the heady sweetness of honeysuckle, without magnification, I couldn’t really appreciate how beautiful it is. As we meditate on God’s beauty and draw near to him, may we share that sweetness with those around us!
We have lots of Russian olives in bloom along our lane, but how could I explain to you how joyous they look without magnification?
We can’t “magnify the Lord” in the sense of making him anything greater than he is, because he is the Creator who holds the universe in his hands! He is already higher than the heavens and deeper than the seas . . . crowned with beauty and glory!
But, as we draw near to him and begin to appreciate his beauty, we are filled with such awe that we want to share what we’ve experienced with others, just like I love sharing my experiences with you!
With magnification, even the common experiences of life become uncommon . . . like the daily miracles we may fail to notice—the breathe of life, color, water . . .
Only through the magnification of God’s Word do we learn to understand that not everything which is beautiful to look is also safe to eat. Some things are really bejeweled poison! “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable” (Isaiah 42:21).
Only with magnification can we see the tiny details, like the minuscule fly resting on the lily. (Can you see it?) “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour” (Ecclesiastes 10:1). Can you think of anywhere outside scripture where we are given so many insights about the “little” details of righteousness?
I realized that magnification makes me aware of the fragility of life. How easily I might have stepped on these delicate clovers growing in the middle of the road! Even more surprising, there was a miniature slug sitting in the middle of one of them, which I really did not see until I studied the photo later! Whom might we harm because they’re in the middle of our road?? Ever read the children’s book, Horton Hears a Who?
Finally, I realized that the most powerful camera in the world (which I certainly don’t own . . . but for the sake of argument), with the best magnification potential in the world, would be absolutely useless if it isn’t focused properly! If we don’t learn how to use the Bible (the world’s most powerful tool for revealing and magnifying God) to focus others on the magnificence of God, we won’t have anything worth sharing with others! Instead, we’ll be much more likely to confuse or frustrate them.
“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30)