Apr 9, 2019

Spring Is Coming!

April 9 and it is snowing here in Maine. This picture warms my heart. Spring is on it's way!

Photographer Unknown

Mar 16, 2019

As The Ruin Falls

I discovered Phil Keaggy while in college. This is one of my favorite of his songs, a poem by CS Lewis he set to music. The video quality isn't the best but you can hear his amazing guitar playing and singing.

Mercy Prayer

I have no resume
to hold before You,
no track record of accomplishments,
no letters of commendation,
no rights of birth or ethnicity.
I hold nothing
that would place You in my debt,
that could curry Your favor,
that would obligate You.
I wish unbridled zeal
would commend me to You.
I wish unbroken obedience
would draw Your attention.
I wish model wisdom and model love
would convince You that I'm worthy.
But I have none of these things
to offer You.
I stand before You with shoulders bent
and hands that are empty.
I approach You with no
argument in my mind
or no words to offer in my defense.
I stand before You
naked and undeserving,
broken and weak.
I am quite aware of the
duplicity of my heart,
the evil of my choices,
and the failure of my behavior,
but I am not afraid
because I stand before You
with one argument,
with one plea.
This argument is enough.
This plea is sufficient.
This argument is the only thing
that could ever give me
and sturdy hope.
So I come before You
with this plea:
Your mercy.
Your mercy is my rest.
Your mercy is my hope.
Your mercy makes me bold.
Your mercy is all I need.
Your mercy
tells me You will hear.
Your mercy
tells me You will act.
Your mercy
tells me You will forgive.
Your mercy
tells me You will restore.
Your mercy
tells me You will strengthen.
Your mercy is my
and rescue.
I rest in this one thing:
You are mercy
You will answer.

(Mercy Prayer by Paul David Tripp from A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble)

Jul 16, 2018

I Can Trace My Love for Russian History to That Day...

One hundred years ago tonight, July 16, 1918, Czar Nicholas Romanov, his wife, and 5 children were shot to death in the basement of a house in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

I was sitting in a history class in high school when I first learned about the Romanovs. We were shown a movie about them and I was mesmerized by their story. That was 45 years ago but I can still see that classroom in my mind. The screen was on the left side of the room. I was about two thirds of the way back, the room was dark, and their lives unfolded before me.

I remember when the program ended and the lights came back up, I wanted to cry. But when you're 15, that's the last thing you want to let your classmates see.

I would go on, over the years, to read everything I could find about them. I was fascinated by every detail of their lives: Nicholas and Alexandra's deep love for one another, their shared ancestry with Queen Victoria, the fact that he didn't want to rule but just be a father to their four beautiful daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and their hemophiliac son Alexia. Because of his malady, their association with the mad but charismatic monk Rasputin, would inevitably lead to their downfall. 

I remember my amazement at seeing a picture of Nicholas with his cousin, George V -- their resemblance is beyond uncanny. I'm still amazed by it! (Don't get me started on the genealogy of the family and how it intertwines with today's British Royal family).

And of course, the whole mystery of did Anastasia survive? This was long enough ago that DNA testing wasn't part of the equation. Long enough ago that Anna Anderson was still alive. (Britain's Prince Philip donated his DNA to put that mystery to rest). Nope, I said I wasn't going there...

We now know that no one survived that horrible, bloody massacre. The Grand Duchesses had sewn jewels into their clothing causing the bullets to ricochet off so they were bayoneted and clubbed to death. Their bodies were then stripped, mutilated, burned and buried in a field.

I can trace the start of my love for Russian history to that day sitting in a South Clay High School history class in Gillette Grove, Iowa.

Here I am 45 years later, commemorating their lives in my own small way, on the 100th anniversary of their deaths.

My fascination with their country continues to this day.

I wonder who chose today, of all days, for the meeting between Trump and Putin.

“I am obliged to report that, at the present moment, the Russian Empire is run by lunatics.”
Maurice Paleologue, French Ambassador, 1918

Jul 14, 2018

History In My Backyard

Every year the small town of Orrington, Maine celebrates with Old Home Days. Part of that celebration is the annual Northeastern Primitive Rendezvous.

I drive though Orrington every day on my way to and from work. I always look forward to this event every July, because it causes me twice a day, to reflect on what life would have been like 200 years ago.

Jul 7, 2018

It's Not a Race, It's a Journey

"Quitting merely because you’re behind is a trap, a form of hiding that feels safe, but isn’t. The math is simple: whatever you switch to because you quit is another place you’re going to be behind as well.It’s not a race, it’s a journey."  ~Seth Godin

Four years ago I bought into the premise that if I was going to be a "real" blogger, I needed to buy my own domain, and use a "real" blogging platform. So I did, but there was no magic in it. I struggled to post. I couldn't find my voice. I didn't know why I was even blogging. I just felt that I was supposed to.

Then the hosting company that I was using decided to charge me over $700 a year to renew in May instead of $129. I'm not sure it was worth the initial amount let alone 6 times that! So I finally pulled the plug and let it die.

I researched some other hosting companies. Some had really good deals, at least for the first year. But I've decided for my needs Google Blogger is just fine. It's free! Four years later and my posts are still here, just waiting for me to come back and start again.

I backed up the posts from those four years of my life but have no idea how to import them here. In the big scheme of things, I've decided it doesn't really matter. I'm not going to let that keep me from moving on.

I'm happy to be back here where it all started. I'm excited about blogging again. I'm so thankful that life is not a race, but a journey.

 "I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I doforgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead." Philippians 3:13

May 24, 2014

Do Not Mourn Me Dead

I remember being glued to the television for five nights in a row back in September, 1990, watching Ken Burns The Civil War. Through words and pictures he brought that terrible time in our history even more to life for me than it had been before. I had corresponded with some descendants of Civil War soldiers from the time I was in the sixth grade through high school, after placing an ad in Good Old Times magazine saying I was looking for more information on the Civil War. The letters had poured in!  It was fairly overwhelming for a twelve year old. They shared memories and sent copies of letters and diaries. But it wasn't until I was an adult, maybe because as we age we begin to grasp the brevity of life, that the Civil War became even more real to me.

I was captivated, as was the rest of the country, when Sullivan Ballou's letter to his young wife Sarah was read as the haunting Ashokan Farwell was heard in the background.

It seems fitting to share it again this weekend as we remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion for our country.

July the 14th, 1861

Washington D.C.

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night—amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.