No More Sixteen Going on Seventeen: Meet Number Seventeen!

Last Thursday I left off my tale at the point where my over-due daughter-in-law and I had just spent a marvelous day at Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Padova, Italy) but had no clear memory of how to retrace our steps to find our car, wherever it had been parked on some side street with a name we couldn’t recall.

Truly, I attempt to practice the advice to “pray without ceasing,”  but normally there are many lapses. Not so this late afternoon! “Which way, Lord? Ah, I remember that shop. Now what? Which way did you say? Down there? Oh, yes, that patch of grass looks familiar. Thank you. Oooo… I don’t remember anything here…” About then Grace would remember something, and together the three of us (Grace and I, led by the Holy Spirit) slowly made our way back to the car.  Thank you, Father! Grace was super tired but still not having contractions, so we drove through quite a thunderstorm the forty miles back to Vincenza, where we were greeted by our family and this rain-drenched rose. We stopped briefly on our way home to buy some herbal teas and other homeopathic medicines the midwife suggested to stimulate contractions, and I picked up a tiramisu to thank the home team for letting us be gone all day. The night passed quietly, but just as we were getting ready to leave for church Sunday morning, Grace’s water broke, and eventually (with the help of two midwives and a lot of hard labor), their new baby was born at home. So, welcome to the family, Baby Marius Rive! His first name is in honor of the character, Marius Pontmercy, who is saved by Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and later marries Valjean’s daughter. Grace had just finished reading the book and felt that Marius was going to carry on his father-in-law’s legacy of grace and forgiveness. “Rive” is an ancient french word that means “river bank,” and Michael and Grace put the two names together as a blessing and prayer that Marius Rive will be like a river bank to channel God’s grace and forgiveness to others. Isn’t that beautiful?

Channels Only
(Mary E. Maxwell, 1900, Public Domain;
This song is a great favorite of our family)

  1. How I praise Thee, precious Savior,
    That Thy love laid hold of me;
    Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
    That I might Thy channel be.

    • Refrain:
      Channels only, blessed Master,
      But with all Thy wondrous pow’r
      Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
      Every day and every hour.
  2. Just a channel full of blessing,
    To the thirsty hearts around,
    To tell out Thy full salvation,
    All Thy loving message sound.
  3. Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
    A clean vessel in Thy hand;
    With no pow’r but as Thou givest
    Graciously with each command.
  4. Witnessing Thy pow’r to save me,
    Setting free from self and sin;
    Thou who bought me to possess me,
    In Thy fullness, Lord, come in.
  5. Jesus, fill now with Thy Spirit
    Hearts that full surrender know,
    That the streams of living water
    From our inner man may flow.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” (Isaiah 41:17-19)

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
(John 7:37-38).

Streams in the Desert

Rocky Wilderness of TunisiaOn our trip to discover the heart of Tunisia, Tunisian Hills. Gold we traveled across 800 miles of golden deserts under a dome of deep blue sky. Tunisian Hills. 2 Despite my appreciation for maize and blue (being U. of Michigan’s colors), Desert Land of Tunisia I found the barrenness of the desert even more oppressive than the heat. Tunisian Wilderness Where was the green? Where was the cool, blue water? Lake Superior As one who grew up amongst the woodlands and 60,000+ lakes of Michigan, Home Sweet Home to me green+blue=life+comfort. Wilderness in we traveled across 800 miles I found myself marveling that people could surviveBarrenness of Tunisia—or ever figure out how to navigate across—such wilderness terrain. Climbing the hills in Tunisia Our guide understood this basic craving in the heart of man for signs of life, Climb to spring in Tunisia so one afternoon he took us on a hike to the source of a small spring. Tunisian Desert Area It was a very hot day, and a relatively hard climb, Tunisian Hills. Climb but it was so dry that our sweat evaporated almost as soon as it surfaced Dry Riverbed in Tunisia.…leaving us very thirsty. Mountain Goat Tunisia However, our efforts were wonderfully rewarded. Source of Spring in Tunisia High up in the rocky hills was a tiny stream of water flowing out of the rock. Stream descending from mountain in Tunisia To me, it looked like just an insignificant trickle, Stream of Water in Tunisia but it was steady, and it was precious. Stream in the Desert of Tunisia The Tunisians in the area had gone to great pains to protect the spring Channel for stream in Tunisian Desert by carving out a channel into the stone so the water could flow Stream broadening out in Tunisian Desert without obstruction down to the village that had grown up in the oasis below. Stream in the Tunisian Desert In fact, over the years, the Tunisians were carefully expanding the oasis Palms planted by stream in Tunisia by planting more palms, which trapped more moisture and promoted life. Oasis Pool. Tunisia I was astonished to discover that so small a stream in the desert Tunisian Hills could make life possible for such a large village, but I should not have been. Water in Tunisia After all, Jesus does exactly that for each of us who come to him. Tunisian Hills. Dry riverbed This may not make sense for those who haven’t found Him yet, Rock and Palm in Tunisia  but Jesus is the Rock out of whom flows a river of living water to provide life and health for everyone who puts their faith and trust in Him. Beautiful pool in Tunisia “For in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.  And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water.” (Isaiah 35:6-7) Tunisian Stream in Desert Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me,
and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
(John 7:37-38)

(I took all the pictures in Tunisia this summer, except for the two pictures of Michigan and our lake.)