Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Poem for Christmas Eve

Bells Across the Snow

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Has it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
With its joy and with its pain!
Minor chords are in the carol
And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
To the "bells across the snow."

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
It's not so very long
Some other voices blended
With the carol and the song!
If we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now;
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow;
There would be no cry to cover,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the "bells across the snow."

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This nevermore can be;
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee,
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of goodwill,
With holy songs of glory
Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow;
As we listen in the starlight
To the "bells across the snow."

Frances Ridley Havergal
from Streams in the Desert

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Hymn

Ding Dong, Merrily on High

Ding dong! Merrily on high, in Heav’n the bells are ringing,
Ding dong! Verily the sky is riv’n with angel singing.
Gloria, hosannah in the highest!

E’en so here below, below, let steeple bells be swungen,
And io, io, io, by priest and people sungen.
Gloria, hosannah in the highest!

Pray ye dutifully, prime your matin chime, ye ringers;
May ye beautifully rime your evetime song, ye singers.
Gloria, hosannah in the highest!

This video is the same performance I have on an old Christmas collection of choirs singing. It's a beautiful arrangement, although the video isn't that great.

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.


O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.


The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.


Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.


When the heav’ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”

My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

An accapella version of this hymn:

Encouraging Quote

From Streams in the Desert (Dec. 21):

Every difficult task that comes across your path - every one you would rather not do, that will take the most effort, cause the most pain, and be the greatest struggle - brings a blessing with it. And refusing to do it regardless of the personal cost is to miss the blessing.

Every difficult stretch of road on which you see the Master's footprints and along which He calls you to follow Him leads unquestionably to blessings. And they are blessings you will never receive unless you travel the steep and thorny path.

Every battlefield you encounter, where you are required to draw your sword and fight the enemy, has the possibility of victory that will prove to be a rich blessing to your life. And every heavy burden you are called upon to lift hides within itself a miraculous secret of strength.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday of Advent

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Thanksgiving Poem

This was posted to an elist I'm on and I really like it so I thought I would post it here.


I thank Thee, O my God, that through Thy grace
I know Thee, who Thou art;
That I have seen the beauty of Thy face
And felt Thee in my heart.

I thank Thee, O my Savior, who hast deigned
To stoop to even me;
Within my inmost soul hast ruled and reigned,
And will my ransom be.

I thank Thee, Holy Spirit, that Thy wings
Brood o'er my wandering mind;
Bringing to my remembrance sacred things
To which my eyes were blind.

I thank Thee, Triune God! But oh, how cold
The warmest words I speak;
For love and goodness strange and manifold,
All human words are weak.

O teach me, then, to praise Thee with my life,
With stern obedience;
To make the atmosphere about me rife
With silent eloquence!

Elizabeth Payson Prentiss

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful today for all the good books and resources that are available now. Here's some that have been particularly helpful lately:

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper - this is a collection of messages from the 2005 Desiring God Conference.
Spurgeon's Morning and Evening
Streams in the Desert
Homeward Bound - a friend lent me this book. I've found it very interesting and very helpful too. Here's the blurb from the back:
“Few things more attractively display and persuasively commend the glory of God in the life of a Christian than a Christ-centered marriage and a Christ-centered family… one that would cause the watching world to sit up and take notice.” So writes Ed Hartman as he contemplates the news that his young wife is probably suffering from a brain tumor.

It was a wake-up call to raise his family with a more eternal perspective.

When my friend lent it to me, she didn't realize the background to the book. But God in His providence knew that this was a book for me to read right now, especially the beginning chapters about God's providence.

Come Weary Saints
The Valley of Vision - both CDs from Sovereign Grace Music
Psalm 42 Message by CJ Mahaney - Speaking to yourself
I haven't listened to this for a while but I have often thought of the main idea from the message. Instead of letting our minds get on the "hamster wheel" of the same thoughts we always have and listening to ourselves, speak God's word to yourself and see what a difference it makes in your life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful Tuesday

I'm reminded again that Rebecca is encouraging us all to be thankful this month. Although I often think of it, I rarely post what I'm thankful for.

Today, I'm thankful for family. I'm thankful that we can be open with each other and how that leads to a deeper, more open relationship. I'm thankful that even through sorrow and grief, we can see God's gracious hand in bringing us closer together.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The First Snowfall

THE SNOW had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer’s muffled crow,
The stiff rails softened to swan’s-down,
And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, “Father, who makes it snow?”
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o’er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar that renewed our woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
“The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall!”

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.

~James Russell Lowell

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I'm Thankful for...

our library system. I was on the website looking up some books and thought I would check our library system. They have almost all of the books so I was able to order them. This way I can check out and see what they are like and if we really like them, then I buy them. Having a great library system is such a blessing.

I was looking for books on grief, especially as it relates to children. I'll take suggestions too. I would love to find some that are Christian in nature, especially more from a reformed perspective. I would also love to find something for our younger ones to read on their own or with us. Suggestions?

Sunday, November 02, 2008


I was just reflecting on the many blessings our family has experienced in the past month and then saw Rebecca's theme for November - Thankfulness. Here are some of the ways we have been blessed (in no particular order):

- friends who provided meals for us. I didn't cook supper for a full month and many of our lunches were from the freezer as well. I was ready to get back to cooking (still need to do a menu for November) but it was a blessing to have it for that long
- cards and letters still coming
- friends who call or write and ask how we are doing
- friends and strangers who put together 4 boxes of homemade cards for me to use - in every theme you can think of
- friends who put together a gift basket filled with coffee, chocolate & scrapbooking supplies
- friends who let us come over and just be ourselves
- a church family that has supported us in so many ways, we just can't count them all up
- a town that still thinks of itself as a community and hurts with us
- packages that come in the mail with books and cds to encourage us
- God who has brought us through this past month and continues every day to remind us of His love and care

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices

May's Puritan reading was Precious Remedies against Satan's Devices by Thomas Brooks. I'm almost done it. This quote caught my attention today:

All divine power and strength against sin flows from the soul's union and communion with Christ. While you keep off from Christ, you keep off from that strength and power which is alone able to make you trample down strength, lead captivity captive, and slay the Goliaths that bid defiance to Christ. It is only faith in Christ that makes a man triumph over sin, Satan, hell and the world. It is only faith in Christ that binds the strong man's hand and foot, that stops the issue of blood, that makes a man strong in resisting and happy in conquering. Sin always dies most where faith lives most. The most believing soul is the most mortified soul. Ah! sinner, remember this, there is no way on earth effectually to be rid of the guilt, filth and power of sin, but by believing in a Saviour. It is not resolving, it is not complaining, it is not mourning but believing, that will make thee divinely victorious over that body of sin that to this day is too strong for thee, and that will certainly be thy ruin, if it be not ruined by a hand of faith.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Puritan Reading Challenge - The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

In January, I took up Timmy Brister's Puritan Reading Challenge. I read The Bruised Reed first.
Next, since we didn't have February's title yet, I picked up The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. I finished it just a few days into March.

I've read The Rare Jewel before but this time was particularly meaningful. February was a hard month spiritually. I was challenged with some issues about myself and I am thankful to God for bringing these things to my attention. I don't think it was any coincidence that I was reading this book at the time.

The Rare Jewel is not necessarily easy to read, in more ways than one. I began it at the beginning of February and after a couple of days, went back and started outlining it as I went so I could keep track of all his points. That helped a lot. It's laid out well but there are subpoints of subpoints so sometimes I got a little confused until I started writing it down.

It's also not that easy to read because it's challenging spiritually. Here are some quotes and points from it. In italics are the direct quotes.

Contentment is an inward quiet gracious frame of spirit.

Contentment is freely submitting to and taking pleasure in God's disposal.

A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition as by way of subtraction.

(I can't tell from my notes if this next is an exact quote - I think so but I'm not sure)
Not only in good things does a Christian have the dew of God's blessing and finds them very sweet to him, but in all the afflictions, all the evils that befall him, he can see love and can enjoy the sweetness of love in his afflictions as well as in his mercies.

God is most honoured when I can turn from one condition to another according as he calls me to it.

Speaking of the providence of God...
No more can you make the providence of God alter and change its course with your vexing and fretting; it will go on with power...

God may have some work to do twenty years hence that depends on this passage of providence that falls out this day or this week.

If you have a love and friendship to God, be willing to be crossed... that the Lord may have his work go on in general.

By contentment we come to give God the worship that is due to Him.

Burroughs spends quite a bit of time on the evils of a murmuring/discontented spirit. It's very convicting!

One quote that particularly affected me:

The great design God has in afflicting you is to break and humble your heart; and will you maintain a spirit quite opposite to the work of God? For you to murmur and be discontented is to resist the work of God. God is doing you good if you could see it and if He is pleased to sanctify your affliction to break that hard heart of yours and humble that proud spirit of yours, it would be the greatest mercy that you ever had in your life.

From ch. 12: Considerations to content the heart in any afflicted condition
1. consider the greatness of the mercies we have and the meanness of what we lack
2. The consideration that God is beforehand with us with his mercies should content us
3. The consideration of the abundance of mercies God bestows and we enjoy

Highly recommended in any season of life. I am hoping to reread each of these books over the next few years because there is so much in them, I can't possibly get it in one reading.

We are studying the Puritans in our history study in school right now and I'm finding it interesting to be reading some of their works at the same time as I am reading about them. Sometimes I don't seem to be reading about the same people!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Now Understand...

what my parents went through.

I took my son driving today. First time for me with him, about his second or third time driving but it's been a while.

He did fine. We didn't run into anything. He didn't speed - much. We got there in one piece and I didn't even have to raise my voice.

But I was tense all the way and I felt like I was doing what I used to make fun of in my mom. You know, when your right foot is firmly pressed to the floor to help brake...

It was a good experience for both of us. I'm sure he'll learn how to moderate his speed and his braking speed and how to navigate around corners so we only go in one lane. And I'll learn how much to say and not to say.

Since I want him to do some driving on an upcoming road trip, he needs to practice and drive every day. But I think I might let his dad do a few of the driving practices. It's hard to be a mom sometimes.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Hymn - O Sacred Head

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

I've been humming this one for the past few days for two reasons. First, because Easter is approaching and I've been thinking about it. And I'm also working on playing this on the cello. The notes are easy but making it sound good is the challenge. I've been learning vibrato this year so I'm trying to apply it to this song and work on the phrasing too. I'm hopeful that with practice it will sound like it does in my head.

Or as it does on this album:

We first bought this album as a cassette tape after hearing John Catchings play with Michael Card and loved it then. I think this is part of the influence for me in wanting to learn cello. Then we didn't hear anything of John Catchings for a long time, until one day I was listening to one of the Sovereign Grace albums, probably The Valley of Vision and heard the cello in the background. We checked the album notes and sure enough, it was John Catchings. I've noticed his name on a few other albums too.

Last night I decided to check itunes for his album and there it was! Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sunday Hymn

Yes, it's true, I'm posting a Sunday hymn. Whether I do it for more than one week in a row remains to be seen. But for now, here is "I Sing the Mighty Power of God" which I believe we'll be singing in church tomorrow.

I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command, and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kick Starting the New Year - a Puritan Challenge

Timmy Brister, at Provocations & Pantings, has started a Puritan Reading Challenge for 2008, which includes reading a Puritan book each month. Since I've been thinking for a while that it would be a good idea to read some more of the Puritans, this provides a good push to do so.

Here's the link for the post with all the details.

Would you like to join too?