Field Stone Cottage Blog

Monday, March 31, 2008

Meme: Passion Quilt

Kim tagged me for this meme on Friday but it took me some time to think about how to respond to it. I am not a fast thinker, for those of you who are just getting to know me.

But back to the meme. Here are the "rules" for this one:
1. Post a picture or make/take/or create one that depicts that about which YOU are most passionate for students to learn.
2. Give your picture a short title.
3. Title your blog post "Meme: Passion Quilt."
4. Link back to this blog post.
5. Include links to five (or more) whom you are tagging for this meme.

Here's mine and I've titled it simply "Light."

There are so many passages of Scripture that use the imagery of light to convey what we have in our Saviour but to me the one that most clearly conveys the Gospel message in one verse is Psalm 56:13 "For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life." And He commands me to share that message with all who cross my path.

I've lost track of who has been tagged and who hasn't for this meme so please, if you haven't been tagged, consider this your invitation to join in.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Hymn--Christ the Lord is Risen Today

"Christ the Lord is risen today," Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say; Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high; Alleluia!
Sing ye heav'ns, and earth, reply: Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal; Alleluia!
Christ has burst the gates of hell: Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids his rise; Alleluia!
Christ hath opened Paradise. Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King; Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died, our souls to save; Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head; Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise: Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies. Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and heav'n! Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be giv'n; Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now; Alleluia!
Hail, the Resurrection Thou! Alleluia!

Listen to it here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Split Pea Soup Extraordinaire--By Request

I can say that, the extraordinaire part, because this is really not my recipe. When I was in Oregon about six weeks ago to visit my family, various members of said family made comments to me about my sister, Mary's split pea soup. Things like, "Have you ever had Mary's split pea soup?" or "You really have to have Mary's split pea soup sometime!" or "Mary makes the best split pea soup!" So I finally asked her exactly what the deal was with this raved-about split pea soup and she said the secret ingredients were potatoes and garlic. "Okay," I said, filing that away for future reference. Well, I had a ham bone in the freezer so last week, I decided to give it a try. Here's the exact recipe:

Boil a ham bone with lots of ham scraps still attached in about a gallon of water for a couple of hours. Remove bone and strip it of usable ham chunks cutting them into bite-sized pieces. Set ham chunks aside adding more of them, if necessary.

Add approximately four and a half cups of dried split peas to the ham broth and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes; then remove from heat, cover and let stand one hour. Stir about one cup of chopped onion, two cloves of minced garlic, and salt and pepper as desired into peas. Cover and simmer until peas are tender, about one hour. Skim fat if necessary.

Add ham chunks, three medium carrots (sliced) and three medium potatoes cut into half inch cubes to soup. Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.

Well, that split pea soup was everything it was cracked up to be! Andy loved it that night and I thought it was pretty darn good, myself! The next day, I was having tea with my dear friend, Kim, and I mentioned that the night before I had made the best split pea soup I ever made. Being the excellent cook that she is, Kim's ears perked up even though she is the only one in her family who likes the stuff. The next day I dropped some off for Kim's dining pleasure at lunch time and that is where the request part comes in. "You've got to post that recipe!" she said. So here is...with endorsements!

Quotes from the Cottage

"He who dwells in a house, keeps the house in repair; so the Spirit dwelling in a believer, keeps grace in repair. Grace is compared to a river of the water of life, John 7:38. This river can never be dried up, because God's spirit is the spring that continually feeds it."
--Thomas Watson

Thursday, March 27, 2008

15 Words or Less Poem

Lemon yellow,
Could be jello.
Take a square
Fat chance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Very First Meme

I've been tagged for my very first meme! Kim at Hiraeth did the tagging and I'm excited to get to play!

So here are the rules of the game:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, each player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Here's the meme:

What was I doing ten years ago?

Like Kim, I was getting ready to move but our move was just local. Moving from rural upstate New York two years previously, Chicagoland involved some sticker shock for us and the house we were living in was affordable but did not really meet our needs. Also I was just beginning the project of homeschooling our daughter, Emily, for her high school years.

Five things on my "to do" list today:
1. Care for a friend's cat while they are on vacation
2. Take a walk with Charlie
3. Do next installment of study of the Book of Matthew with my sister
4. Clean the bedroom
5. Do two rows on the baby afghan I'm crocheting

Snacks I enjoy:
fruit, trail mix, popcorn

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Hmmm...well, visit Ireland, fund a building for our little church and a pastor too, help family and friends that I know could use it, buy Andy a four wheel drive vehicle and Emily a harpsichord. Probably not in that order and each one only after much prayer to ascertain God's direction in the matter but those are the dreamy things that spring to my mind.

Three of my bad habits:
I have to tell? Well, all right.
1. Worrying (but not as much as I used to)
2. Hitting the return key after I label a post but before I am ready to publish it!
3. Not buying something at a clearance sale or a second hand store or a garage sale and then it is gone when I decide I really should have gotten it

Five places I've lived:
1. The Utica-Rome area of Upstate New York
2. Wichita Falls, Texas
3. The Portland, Oregon area
4. New York City
5. Long Island, New York

Five jobs I've had:
1. Registered nurse
2. Child-care provider
3. Tae Kwon Do instructor
4. Seamstress
5. I don't think there ever was anything else!

So there you have it! I think I will tag Rosemary at Seasonings of the Heart, Karen at Simply A Musing Blog, Ann at Whatever Things... and Island Sparrow at A Sparrow's Home.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Celebration

Today, not only did we have the joy of worshiping our God, celebrating what He has done for us through the atoning death and resurrection of His Son, but we had the pleasure of sharing Easter dinner with our church family after the service. Our home was the location but we all contributed to the meal. Kim made Rosemary's Cheesy Potatoes and oh, boy, were they a hit! Rich and cheesy, just like the recipe says, they accompanied the ham perfectly. Also present and accounted for were various vegetables, another scrumptious potato dish and rolls. My assignment was dessert and I decided on carrot cake. This recipe, given to me by my friend, Julie, is the one I've made for several years now and I always get compliments on it. Today was no exception so I'm sharing the recipe with all of you.

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups canola oil
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 cups grated carrot (1 cup=4 ounces)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (I substitute pecans)
1 cup raisins

Beat sugar, eggs and oil together. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add to sugar, egg and oil mixture and combine. Mix well. Stir in carrots, nuts and raisins. Spray 9 X 13 inch baking pan and pour in mixture. Bake for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees F.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 eight ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest or peel
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest or peel (If I don't have one or the other on hand, I just use 3 teaspoons of the one I do have.)
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Beat together butter and cream cheese at high speed until very light and well blended. Beat in the zests. Beat in sugar at low speed.

Poetry of the Resurrection: Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus

Hail, Thou once despis├Ęd Jesus! Hail, Thou Galilean King!
Thou didst suffer to release us; Thou didst free salvation bring.
Hail, Thou universal Savior, who hast borne our sin and shame!
By Thy merits we find favor; life is given through Thy Name.

Paschal Lamb, by God appointed, all our sins on Thee were laid;
By almighty love anointed, Thou hast full atonement made.
Every sin may be forgiven through the virtue of Thy blood;
Opened is the gate of Heaven, reconciled are we with God.

Jesus, hail! enthroned in glory, there forever to abide;
All the heavenly hosts adore Thee, seated at Thy Father’s side.
There for sinners Thou art pleading; there Thou dost our place prepare;
Thou for saints art interceding till in glory they appear.

Worship, honor, power and blessing Christ is worthy to receive;
Loudest praises, without ceasing, right it is for us to give.
Help, ye bright angelic spirits, bring your sweetest, noblest lays;
Help to sing of Jesus’ merits, help to chant Emmanuel’s praise!

John Bakewell, 1757 and Martin Madan, 1760

For more Poetry of the Resurrection, click here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

First Day of Spring: Crystal Lake, Illinois

Does this look like spring to you? Us either. But we had to admit, fresh snow is always beautiful. Even when your commute is lousy. Even when your daughter can't come home for Easter until the next day. Even when you can't make it to Good Friday Service. It is still beautiful and God is still sovereign.

Poetry of the Cross: Not all the Blood of Beasts

Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain:

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb
Takes all our sins away,
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.

My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.

My soul looks back to see
The burdens thou didst bear,
When hanging on the cursed tree,
And knows her guilt was there.

Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice,
And sing his bleeding love.

Isaac Watts, 1709

More Poetry of the Cross here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Poetry of the Cross: Throned Upon the Awful Tree

Throned upon the awful tree,
Lamb of God, Your grief I see.
Darkness veils Your anguished face;
None its lines of woe can trace.
None can tell what pangs unknown
Hold You silent and alone.

Silent through those three dread hours,
Wrestling with the evil powers,
Left alone with human sin,
Gloom around You and within,
Till the appointed time is nigh,
Til the Lamb of God may die.

Hark, that cry that peals aloud
Upward through the whelming cloud!
You, the Father’s only Son,
You, His own anointed One,
You are asking “can it be”
“Why have You forsaken Me?”

Lord, should fear and anguish roll,
Darkly o’er my sinful soul,
You, who once were thus bereft
That Your own might ne’er be left,
Teach me by that bitter cry
In the gloom to know You nigh.

John Ellerton, 1875

More Poetry of the Cross here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Poetry of the Cross: Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
’Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
’Tis the long expected prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
’Tis a true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting his distress:
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See Who bears the awful load!
’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man, and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost.
Christ the Rock of our salvation,
Christ the Name of which we boast.
Lamb of God for sinners wounded!
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.

Thomas Kelly, 1804

For more Poetry of the Cross, visit here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Poetry of the Cross: O Dearest Jesus

O dearest Jesus, what law hast Thou broken
That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken?
Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession—
What dark transgression?

They crown Thy head with thorns, they smite, they scourge Thee;
With cruel mockings to the cross they urge Thee;
They give Thee gall to drink, they still decry Thee;
They crucify Thee.

Whence come these sorrows, whence this mortal anguish?
It is my sins for which Thou, Lord, must languish;
Yea, all the wrath, the woe, Thou dost inherit,
This I do merit.

What punishment so strange is suffered yonder!
The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander;
The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him,
Who would not know Him.

The sinless Son of God must die in sadness;
The sinful child of man may live in gladness;
Man forfeited his life and is acquitted—
God is committed.

There was no spot in me by sin untainted;
Sick with sin’s poison, all my heart had fainted;
My heavy guilt to hell had well-nigh brought me,
Such woe it wrought me.

O wondrous love, whose depth no heart hath sounded,
That brought Thee here, by foes and thieves surrounded!
All worldly pleasures, heedless, I was trying
While Thou wert dying.

O mighty King, no time can dim Thy glory!
How shall I spread abroad Thy wondrous story?
How shall I find some worthy gifts to proffer?
What dare I offer?

For vainly doth our human wisdom ponder—
Thy woes, Thy mercy, still transcend our wonder.
Oh, how should I do aught that could delight Thee!
Can I requite Thee?

Yet unrequited, Lord, I would not leave Thee;
I will renounce whate’er doth vex or grieve Thee
And quench with thoughts of Thee and prayers most lowly
All fires unholy.

But since my strength will nevermore suffice me
To crucify desires that still entice me,
To all good deeds, oh, let Thy Spirit win me
And reign within me!

I’ll think upon Thy mercy without ceasing,
That earth’s vain joys to me no more be pleasing;
To do Thy will shall be my sole endeavor
Henceforth forever.

Whate’er of earthly good this life may grant me,
I’ll risk for Thee; no shame, no cross, shall daunt me;
I shall not fear what man can do to harm me
Nor death alarm me.

But worthless is my sacrifice, I own it;
Yet, Lord, for love’s sake Thou wilt not disown it;
Thou wilt accept my gift in Thy great meekness
Nor shame my weakness.

And when, dear Lord, before Thy throne in Heaven
To me the crown of joy at last is given,
Where sweetest hymns Thy saints forever raise Thee,
I, too, shall praise Thee.

Johann Heerman, 1630

More Poetry of the Cross here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Poetry of the Cross: Salvation

My sin, His blood
My guilt, His pain
My debt, His cost
My life, His death
My utter need, His perfect love
My Saviour, His faltering disciple.

More Poetry of the Cross.

Sweet Potato Puff

One more for the Recipe Round Up! It is more of a special occasion side dish, one that goes equally well with ham or turkey. A special friend gave it to me several years ago and I've made it just about every holiday season since. Thanks, Sharon!

3 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c. butter
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon

Place sweet potatoes in the bowl. Beat with wire whisk attachment to your mixer at low speed for 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients, turn mixer to medium speed and beat for one minute. Spread mixture in greased pie plate or 8 X 8 square pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until set. Spread Crunchy Praline Topping on hot sweet potatoes and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Crunchy Praline Topping

1/3 c. butter, melted
3/4 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1/2 c. brown sugar

Stir ingredients thoroughly together.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Poetry of the Cross: By the Cross of Jesus Standing

By the cross of Jesus standing,
Love our straitened souls expanding,
Taste we now the peace and grace!
Health from yonder tree is flowing,
Heav’nly light is on it glowing,
From the blessed Sufferer’s face.

Here is pardon’s pledge and token,
Guilt’s strong chain forever broken,
Righteous peace securely made;
Brightens now the brow once shaded,
Freshens now the face once faded,
Peace with God now makes us glad.

All the love of God is yonder,
Love above all thought and wonder,
Perfect love that casts out fear!
Strength, like dew, is here distilling,
Glorious life our souls is filling,
Life eternal, only here!

Here the living water welleth;
Here the Rock, now smitten, telleth
Of salvation freely giv’n:
This the fount of love and pity,
This the pathway to the city,
This the very gate of Heav’n.

Horatius Bonar

Read more Poetry of the Cross here.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Baked Tomatoes

Don't forget that tomorrow is the Recipe Round Up featuring side dishes at The Accidental Pastor's Wife. I need some inspiration in this area so I am looking forward to all of your recipes. Here's my next contribution.

Tasty and easy are two important criteria in a recipe, as far as I am concerned. Baked tomatoes make it on both counts. They are especially good with egg dishes or sandwiches.

Place Roma tomatoes, halved length-wise, in an oven proof dish cut side up and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450 and bake another 15 minutes. Tomatoes should still be firm and ever so slightly browned.

Meanwhile, make cilantro butter by mixing three tablespoons of softened butter with one clove minced garlic, one tablespoon chopped cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and salt to taste.

When tomatoes come from the oven, spread with cilantro butter and serve.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday's Hymn: Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all—a healing stream—
Flows from Calvary's mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Shed its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o'er me.

Near the cross I'll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.

Listen to it here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Promise of Spring--Fulfilled!

We took a walk with Charlie just a little while ago and look what was waiting for us in the yard! Snowdrops! They come even before crocuses around here but I've never had any in my yard until we moved to the Cottage three years ago. I love their brave little bells bending to the wind and cold of March! Yes, it is only six days until the official first day of spring but it is a gray 40 degrees out there with a bit of a breeze. The kind of weather that makes you eager to put the kettle on for tea upon returning from a walk. I think I'll go do that right now!

Broccoli with Garlic

There's another Recipe Round-up on the horizon. The Accidental Pastor's Wife is our hostess and the date is set for Tuesday, March 18th. Side dishes is the category and I've been sorting through my recipe files for some of our favorites. Here is one that needs to be taken out and dusted off. It is a winner!

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium heads broccoli, stems peeled and sliced, flowerets separated into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons water

In a deep 12 inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add broccoli and salt; cook 4 minutes, tossing vegetables to coat well. Add garlic and remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. Cook 1 minute longer, stirring. Add 3 tablespoons water; cook broccoli 2 minutes longer to till tender crisp.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

15 Words or Less Poem

A blanket of ice with strings,
No warmth,
But beauty it brings.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cheese and Guinness Fondue

Prayer meeting is tonight and we always share a meal afterwards. Since this is the closest to St. Patrick's Day that we will be eating together, the theme is Irish fare. I am not sure of the entire menu but we are gathering at my dear friend Carol's house and she is making Reubens. Kim, my other dear friend, is making her Chocolate Stout Cake and I am making Cheese and Guinness Fondue. It is a new recipe but I "taste-tested" it and it makes the grade so I am sharing it with you. Actually, I think it is really good!

1 1/4 cups stout, such as Guinness
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 lb. "melting" cheese (I used Cheddar), grated or finely diced
salt and pepper
assorted veggies for dipping

Heat the stout and lemon juice gently in a heavy pan, until it is just reaching boiling. In a medium bowl, mix the cornstarch and cheese. Add to the pan gradually, over a gentle heat, stirring until the cheese has melted. Season to taste and cook gently until the fondue thickens. Transfer to a fondue pot or a small slow cooker for serving.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Balmy 47!

It is finally happening in Chicagoland! Maybe it is only temporary, maybe we will backslide some, maybe we will even get additional snow. But today, at this very moment, it is 47 sunny degrees! Charlie and I couldn't be happier!

Living Stones

We are part of a very small church that is about to become a mission work of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. We do not have a regular pastor yet but on Sunday, our sermon was delivered by the Rev. Ross W. Graham, General Secretary for the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension of the OPC. The Scripture that he used was 1 Peter 2:1-10.

1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame." 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone, 8and,
"A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

His message for our little church, at the very beginning of construction, gave me much to think about. Rev. Graham began by speaking of the way in which this passage brings us back to Peter's confession of Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God" in Matthew 16:16 and Jesus's response in the verses that follow, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." He reminded us that "this rock" refers to the gospel of faith in Jesus Christ. From there, we turned to the apparent contradiction of the term "living stone." He pointed out that stones do not generally have life as we think of it but the manner in which this particular Stone does is explained in verses 6-8. He used the familiar explanation of the way a cornerstone determines the manner in which the whole building takes shape and reminded us of verse 5, that we also, each one of us, are living stones that God is using in His construction business! Yes, God is in the business of building His church and he is chipping away at each one of us, making us useful in His building project. Not only that, not only is He preparing each one presently in our tiny congregation, He is preparing others to join with us, slowly chiseling each of us, believers and even those who are presently unbelievers, according to His will. And since we are living stones, that chipping and chiseling often hurts! Those who view the construction site without a long-term (eternal) view often can miss out on seeing its ultimate form and purpose, instead just gaining an impression of a mess. That would be not only "outsiders" but even many of us, the impatient ones who often want things NOW. Consistent with that long-term view, as any homeowner knows, the projects are never really finished. As soon as one area is remodeled, it reveals that the next room is worn and shabby. Or sometimes we think that just a little repair needs to be done, something like replacing the kitchen sink faucet which was the plan at the cottage this past weekend, but once started, it becomes apparent that the job is going to involve a lot more than you thought. Like taking up the kitchen sink to reseal it to the counter-top. It is the same with God's ongoing church building. As soon as one aspect is rebuilt, another needs attention. And as Rev. Graham said, not only are we God's building blocks, the living stones, we are also His tools. We are the ones that are doing the work under His direction.

At this point in our church development, this message was one of excitement, yes, but also one of sobering reality. Building projects are inherently exhilarating but they also involve hard work and commitment for the long haul. They involve bone aching fatigue and sometimes even pain. But if we keep our eyes on the end result, the reason for the work, looking back sometimes at what God has accomplished through us and in us, and rely on Him for the strength to keep going, it is humbling and overwhelming! If we focus on verses 9 and 10 of this passage, how can we be discouraged?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday's Hymn: Fountain of Never Ceasing Grace

Fountain of never-ceasing grace,
Thy saints' exhaustless theme,
Great object of immortal praise,
Essentially supreme;
We bless thee for the glorious fruits
Thine incarnation gives;
The righteousness which grace imputes,
And faith alone receives.

In thee we have a righteousness
By God himself approved;
Our rock, our sure foundation this,
Which never can be moved.
Our ransom by thy death was paid,
For all thy people giv'n,
The law thou perfectly obeyed,
That they might enter heav'n.

As all, when Adam sinned alone,
In his transgression died,
So by the righteousness of one
Are sinners justified;
We to thy merit, gracious Lord,
With humblest joy submit,
Again to Paradise restored,
In thee alone complete.

Listen to it here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Quotes from the Cottage

"There is something very striking in the language, 'God glorified His Son by investing Him with the high-priesthood.' The high-priesthood of our Lord, viewed in reference to the opportunities it afforded Him of manifesting the glories of His own character, in the vindication of the honour of the divine law and government, and in the everlasting salvation of innumerable millions--and in reference to the honours with which the discharge of its functions was ultimately to crown Him, may well be described as a glory conferred on Him."
--John Brown

Thursday, March 6, 2008

15 Words or Less Poem

Cloudy thoughts threaten,
Rain ahead?
Swing quietly,
And walk away.

The Van Returns

There is nothing like doing without something (or someone) to make you more appreciative of it. Yesterday, I got my van back! Exactly three weeks ago yesterday, I was rear-ended. You can check out the before and after photos remembering that the "after the repair" is pretty much the same as the "before the mishap." I was stopped at a red light and never saw it coming. Thankfully, no one was injured but my poor van was kind of beat up so I've been driving a rental car for the last week and a half. Now, don't get me wrong. I am very thankful to have wheels at all and be able to get where I've needed to be. BUT I am even more thankful to have my own comfortable car back with all my "stuff" in Aldi boxes and quarter, my tissues, my snow scraper, my sunglasses, that sort of thing. I am thankful to have my own comfortable car back that I know what all the buttons and knobs do. And maybe most of all, I am thankful to not have to try to keep the gas gauge at a quarter of a tank thinking I am returning it any day and that is how much gas I am supposed to return it with. That was hard!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Spring Break

Our daughter, Emily, was home for spring break last week. Not much was spring-y about it, least of all the weather, but it sure was nice to have her home for a few days! She and I had some good times sipping tea together while reading our books or talking about "stuff." Andy helped her with her income taxes. The three of us went to Caribou for coffee (tea for me, thank you) and scones on Saturday morning. That's a family tradition around here! And Charlie was happy to lay in her lap while she brushed him and to just soak up the love. He misses his "sister." In fact, yesterday morning, after I took him out, he went charging off to Emily's room hoping to hop in bed with her for a while longer, something he tends to do when she's home. He was sorely disappointed that her bed was empty.

As Charlie found out, all good things come to an end and so she left on Sunday after church to drive back to school. Andy was finally able to relax when we got the call that she had arrived safely about 7PM. Now I am catching up all the loose ends of things deferred while Emily was home. That includes everything from income taxes of our own to laundry. But routines are not a bad thing either. Besides which, she'll be home again for Easter and that is only three weeks away!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lessons Learned....Again

Last week's study was on Matthew 18 and, again, humility was the jumping off point for me. But it didn't end there! In fact, I am still processing all that I did learn. Let me correct learning. In Matthew 18, Jesus turns His focus to the church and the relationships we have with other believers in that context. I wanted to narrow my focus down to just a few verses in which to explain my thoughts but in truth, the whole chapter is so interrelated. The chapter opens with the disciples wondering about who among them is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Now don't they sound like a bunch of little kids trying to curry favor with an exasperated parent? And sure enough, Jesus responds to this group of grown men in verses 3 and 4, "I tell you the truth, unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." And there it is. That "h" word again.

In the next five verses, Jesus proceeds to warn the disciples (and us) of the consequences of causing one of these children to stumble. Aha! Each one of these children is of the utmost importance to our Lord. And this conclusion is reinforced by the parable of the lost sheep, told in verses 10 to 14. What a contrast! We are to humble ourselves but remember the importance of each individual to God.

Now, I ask myself with tongue in cheek, could it be any coincidence that Jesus changes the subject to reconciliation with a brother (or sister) who has offended you? He does it right after humbling my heart and causing me to see the value of each individual in the body. Did you notice the change in subject from "you" to "me?" This is beginning to become very personal. And next come verses 19 and 20. "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them." That sounds a lot like unity to me. The unity of believers in the church through Christ. And how can there be unity within the body if two people are at odds with each other?

At this point, Peter asks Jesus how many times he must forgive his brother who sins against him throwing out the number seven as a generous one since the Jews at that time were to forgive another three times.

From here, we move on to the parable of the unmerciful servant. I am going to let you read the text for yourselves but for me, the subject is again humility. How can a true servant of God recognize his own debt to our Lord and the overwhelming forgiveness received and turn around and refuse to forgive someone else? If my humility, my recognition of my need of forgiveness is genuine in the face of that debt, how dare I refuse to forgive a brother or sister for some perceived affront or shortcoming? But the forgiven servant in the parable does just that. He refuses to forgive his fellow servant a much smaller debt. Here I really must quote verses 34 and 35. "In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

My summation of what I am learning from this chapter follows, and I must tell you that I had reason to implement these lessons this week. God is teaching me to humble myself in the face of my neediness and what has been done for me by my Saviour, to forgive my brother or sister from my heart not only because of the value with which God views each one of them but also because of the value he places on the unity of the body of Christ. He is teaching me that failing to reconcile with a brother or sister, asking for that individual's forgiveness as well, can cause a stumbling block for either one of us. And it dishonors Christ by causing a disruption of the unity within the body. It hurts the whole body. For myself, I experienced just a bit of that "torture" mentioned in verse 34 until I began to recognize my own need of forgiveness, both from God and my brother, and pass on at least a fragment of the forgiveness that I owe to Him. Now, God please help me to remember these lessons a little longer than the last time I learned them.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday's Hymn: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

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 Saviour!
'Tis I deserve thy place;
Look on me with thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest Friend,
For this thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me thine for ever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to thee.

Be near when I am dying,
O show thy cross to me;
And for my succor flying,
Come, Lord, to set me free:
These eyes, new faith receiving,
From Jesus shall not move;
For he who dies believing,
Dies safely, through thy love.

Listen to it here.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sweet Potato Waffles

Sometimes we like to have breakfast for supper over here at the Cottage. Tonight was one of those nights. I had some ham in the refrigerator so I decided to do Sweet Potato Waffles to have with it. Kind of a different take on ham and sweet potatoes. Anyway, here's a photo and the recipe. Maybe you'd like to try them at your house too!

1 cup flour (1/4 cup of it can be whole wheat, if desired)
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup mashed or pureed sweet potatoes (canned pumpkin can be substituted, if desired)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 egg, beaten

In a small bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. In a large bowl, whisk together sweet potatoes, milk, olive oil, molasses and beaten egg. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Thin with a little additional milk, if needed. Preheat waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's instructions. Makes approximately six waffles.

Winter Beauty--Icicles in the Morning Light