Monday, December 14, 2015

Casting Light Upon the Dark

A noble and God-like character is not a thing of favour or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with God-like thoughts.”
James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

The following article is meant to challenge your thinking. At the end of this article you will find a personal invitation.

     Why study? Why stretch your mental capacity? Why bother foraging for food to feed your mind? As women we daily expend much energy caring for the needs of those around us. We tire easily from the routine. We become weary in repetition. We forget the importance of our part in this drama of life. We believe “book learning” ended with the receiving of our diploma and we think study time is for the student only. But are we not yet a student? Are there not yet things to learn? When did we stop being a student of life? When did we lose our curiosity?
     The battlefield begins in the mind. Scripture is clear on this point. (Matt. 22:37; Isaiah 26:3; Rom 12:2; Phil 2:5) Why then do we allow this atrophy to creep over our mental muscles? (Atrophy: n. a wasting away of an organ, or a failure to grow to a normal size as the result of disease, faulty nutrition, etc.) So if our mind is the front line of spiritual battle, should we not shore it up? Should we not keep our mind in top condition? Just as the athlete must daily push himself with great discipline and constantly seek to stretch himself past his comfort zone, should we not, also, strive to use this gift of contemplation, thinking, learning and creating to its greatest ability?
     When someone has a well-conditioned mind that is guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit, it is a beautiful thing. Just like anything else in life you get out of it what you put into it. When we shy away from things that are difficult for us we miss out on something very great: the learning of perseverance. Just because a book or an article is difficult to read doesn't mean you should put it down. In fact, most of the great works of literature are difficult to read, at first. But once you learn how to approach a difficult work and how to slowly move through it, you soon find that you have adapted to the language and style of that work and are actually enjoying the process of understanding the author's intent.
     For example, open your eyes to the study of architecture and the spirit that moved men to create buildings of beauty. Learn of harmony and order from the greatest composers. Read some fantastic literature that challenges you to seize the day and make the most of your life for His glory. It is good to seek to understand the works of those who created in a spirit of truth and order. Holiness and diligence in character should be held in high regard. Study the works of good men. Give place to that which is good, pure and right, therefore throwing more and more lights on in the dark places of your mind. By filling your mind with good store there is less and less room for shallow, evil thoughts to dwell. As your storehouse becomes full you will find great pleasure in contemplation and meditation. You will find yourself less peevish and irritable. Boredom will not settle over your spirit when your mind is busy seeking for and sorting through knowledge of truth and beauty.
     It is said of the child Jesus, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40) This forward progression in body, soul and spirit was good for the Lord Jesus and is good for our dear children, but is it not good for us?
     How does one “wax strong”? In the physical realm it is through effort, repetition, and resistance training. Likewise in the spiritual realm, waxing strong is gained through effort put forth in obedience; repetition of trials aiming to increase our faith and daily reading and rereading the Word of God; and lastly through temptation-resistance training.
     The phrase, “in spirit” is referring to that part of you that feels, thinks and decides. That, however, is the second definition for this word. The first definition is referring to the person of the Holy Spirit. To wax strong in spirit then, I believe, is referring to setting the stage of our mind to enable the Holy Spirit to have free course in reining in and reigning over that part of me that feels, thinks and decides.
     “Filled with wisdom” is a wonderful phrase. Do you know that it pleased the Lord to be filled with “wisdom; broad and full of intelligence.” (Strong's) This word, wisdom, is used of “the knowledge of very diverse matters”. It speaks of the knowledge of God's Word and the knowledge of His creation as well as other forms of study.
     The reward of this? “And the grace of God was upon him.” And that wonderful grace was upon him! Grace: Of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. (Strong's)
Imagine that! Giving free course to the Holy Spirit to move freely in your mind. You can expand His living quarters! Learn all you can about a variety of branches of wisdom and let Him dwell in each part, enlightening you to see Him in every truth. In science, history, literature, etc. there are lessons to be learned in all areas of life. He has given us the wonders of creation that we might learn from them. (Job 12:7-9) If we open up all the doors to our mind he can freely move about, expanding His reign. If He took the time to create it, should we not take the time to study it and allow this knowledge to increase our depths of worship of Him?
     What are the three main areas in which we may seek to grow in wisdom and knowledge?
1. The Soul: That which is beautiful speaks to the heart or the soul of mankind. We can feed this part of ourselves through the study of music and art.
2. The Body and Spirit: First, the spirit: meditating on that which is pure raises our spirits to a higher plane. This part of our being needs a constant stream of the pure water of the Word. As our dear pastor once said, “I master this Book so that it may master me.” We also seek to keep our body, the temple of the Holy Ghost, pure through proper nutrition and exercise. Discipline in these areas greatly affect our spiritual health as well as our physical.
3. The Mind: The light of truth and knowledge illuminates our mind and makes it a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. We can draw back the curtains, exposing the dark areas of our small thinking, by reading and contemplating worthy thoughts of great thinkers. We gain mental capacity by systematically working through challenging material.

     The invitation: Expand your influence, sweeten the fragrance of your life, and be prepared to handle the inevitable strains of life by strengthening your heart and mind. Sometimes a program of attack and some accountability are all we need to get started. I am planning a very gentle approach to moving our minds into a place of strength based on God's Word and on beautiful works written by noble people. We will be moving onward and upward together. I will not overload you with work. I seek only to point your mind towards worthy food upon which to feed and to condition your brain and body to sit still long enough to thoroughly digest it.
     If you are interested in embarking on a course of study designed for women, please contact me. Times of instruction and discussion will be held in my home weekly or bi-weekly. You will pay for any books that need to be purchased, but much of the reading material can be found online. You may contact me personally if interested in studying along with a small group of women. email:

Music Study: In the Bleak Mid Winter (youtube link included)

The Cedar Tree wearing a wintry mantle of white, 2014

In the Bleak Mid Winter

ByChristina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

A Holiday Assignment

     Oh, the blessedness of a true work borne out of a true heart! Giving opportunity to your dear children to spend time with a master and his work is a worthy pursuit. The heart of the writer, the composer, the painter is surely seen in his work. As Tomas Carlyle said, "Genuine work done faithfully, that is eternal." 
     Handel's Messiah has stood the test of time. It is a work worthy of your attention. My copy is The London Philharmonic Orchestra and choir , conducted by John Alldis, 2002.

Mr. Handel’s Messiah
Assignment: Listen to each tract, then place a check on the provided line. Next, using the Strong’s Concordance and your Bible, locate and list the verse that Mr. Handel put to music.

Disc One
  1. Overture _____
  2. Comfort Ye My People _____
  3. Every Valley Shall Be Exalted _____
  4. And the Glory of the Lord _____
  5. Thus Saith the Lord _____
  6. But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming _____
  7. And He Shall Purify _____
  8. Behold, A Virgin Shall Conceive _____
  9. O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion ____
  10. For, Behold, A Darkness Shall Cover The Earth ____
  11. The People That Walked in Darkness _____
  12. For Unto Us a Child is Born _____
  13. Pastoral Symphony _____
  14. There Were Shepherds Abiding in the Field _____
  15. And the Angel Said Unto Them ____
  16. And Suddenly There Was With the Angel _____
  17. Glory to God ____
  18. Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion _____
  19. Then Shall the Eyes of the Blind be Opened _____
  20. He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd _____
  21. His Yoke is Easy, And His Burden in Light _____
  22. Behold the Lamb of God _____
  23. He Was Despised _____
Disc Two
  1. Surely He hath Borne Our Griefs _____
  2. And With His Stripes We Are Healed _____
  3. All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray _____
  4. All They That See Him Laugh Him to Scorn _____
  5. He Trusted in God that He Would Deliver Him _____
  6. Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart _____
  7. Behold, and See if There be any Sorrow _____
  8. He Was cut off Out of the Land of the Living _____
  9. But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul in Hell _____
  10. Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates _____
  11. How Beautiful are the Feet of Them _____
  12. Their Sound is Gone Out Into all Lands _____
  13. Why do the Nations so Furiously Rage ______
  14. Let us Break their Bonds Asunder ______
  15. He That Dwelleth in Heaven _____
  16. Thou Shalt Break Them _____
  17. Hallelujah! _____
  18. I Know That My Redeemer Liveth ____
  19. Since By Man Came Death _____
  20. Behold, I Tell You a Mystery _____
  21. The Trumpet Shall Sound _____
  22. Then Shall be Brought to Pass ____
  23. O Death, Where is Thy Sting? _____
  24. But Thanks be to God _____
  25. If God Be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us? _____
  26. Worthy is the Lamb _____

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Matthew 6:32

"Sing on, sing on from the top of your desolate tree, oh little bird of cheerfulness and hope!
 Pour out again that heaven-taught music of contentment with the hour that now is. 
Shalt thou be confident of protection, and man be destitute of hope? 
Shalt thou, in the the depth of thy winter's trial, have joy and peace, and man never look beyond the cloud?"

Margaret Gatty, "Daily Bread" story in Parables of Nature

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bruce and the Spider: A Tale in Persistence
(To be used as an exercise in placing punctuation.)

     There was once a king of Scotland whose name was Robert Bruce The king of England was at war with him and had led a great army into Scotland to drive him out of the land Six times had Bruce led his brave little army against his foes and six times had his men been beaten At last his army was scattered and he was forced to hide himself in the woods

     One rainy day Bruce lay on the ground under a rude shed He was ready to give up all hope As he lay thinking he saw a spider over his head making ready to weave her web he watched her as she toiled slowly and with great care Six times she tried to throw her frail thread from one beam to another and six times it fell short

     Poor thing said Bruce You too know what it is to fail

     But the spider did not lose hope with the sixth failure With still more care she made ready to try for the seventh time Would she fail again No The thread was carried safely to the beam and fastened

     I too will try a seventh time cried Bruce

     He arose a called his men together He told them of his plans and sent them out with messages of cheer to his disheartened people Soon there was an army of brave Scotchmen around him Another battle was fought and the king of England was glad to go back into his own country

     The lesson which the little creature had taught the king was never forgotten

Her hair a flowing chestnut hue

Sweet Emily on Matthew's wedding day

Her hair a flowing chestnut hue;
Braided, tussled and nestled upon her faire head.
Wearing a royal gown in splendid shade of blue;
Wrapped in a mossy green shawl given her by you.

Demurely standing by the emerald hedgerow green,
In the early morning light of a very new day.
Hands clasped, eyes downcast;
A gentle breeze passes, carrying the moments of time away.

Sweetly she stands: patient and still;
Watching the fluttering, tiny leaves
of the emerald hedgerow green.
This girl, my sweet girl, shoulders wrapped in sunlight
dressed in a splendid blue,
with her hair
a flowing

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Autumn Leaves, 28 October 2015

     Leaves littering the slate walk, their comrades loitering about the branches above.  A morning view of golden yellow leaves, like a Chinese silken robe against a pale, blue sky. Tones of olive and yellow green; a tinge of burnt orange across the rolling landscape. Distant puffs of clouds tinted morning orange. (It's good to be alive to see this.) A fiery red autumnal bush going out in a blaze of glory. The sentinel whole moon keeping its vigil 'til morning is safely settled in.
     Times are changing, it is true, but there is glory to be seen if we keep our eyes wide open and stop longing for the green. In the grand chorus of nature, hope and beauty can always be found if you strive to look up and out and not just to the ground. 
     A field draped in a misty robe. A line of geese gliding low across the sky. I long to be where time moves more slowly; perhaps even where it is forgotten altogether. Just let me sit and gaze upon the beauty, or walk among the trees with my loved ones sitting by, and think upon the LORD who made it all; and with a grateful heart, take my rest in His praise and bask in His deep, deep love.
....sounds like heaven.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The True Normal Life

"To be on intimate terms with Him, to live in the atmosphere of His presence, to spend the day with Him--that is the true normal life."

From, Tiger and Tom, "A Picture of God"

The Old Apple Tree

     Walking with God. Every day. He is there anyway. Talk with Him. Praise His name continually. Bring Him into every conversation. This truly is the normal life. 
     To think that He somehow drops in on us occasionally just to check in is a lie. He said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb 13:5) Also, "Lo, I am with you alway." (Matt 28:20) His presence is ever near. We are so easily deceived when we feel we have some private place set apart from God. "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (1 Cor 6:19)
     Regarding the indwelling of Christ, a child asked his mother, "How am I to know He is come, mother?" Her reply, "When you are quite gentle, sweet, and happy, it is because Christ is within." (C. Mason, Home Education) His presence alters you. When you allow yourself to be conscious of His presence, your life will take on a different shape; slowly and oft times painfully due to the powerful force of self, formed into the image of Christ. "And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor 15:49)
     There is within your breast a legion of voices calling out in distraction, filling your thoughts with hate and lies. Your thoughts are an access point where Satan can attack your inner core. Why do you think the verses relating to how we think are so prominent in the Bible? The fortification of our soul must have no weak points. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil 2:5) "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Rom 12:2) As we follow the command to, "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," (Matt 22:37) we will be very careful to allow only truth to dwell within, for it is a certain truth that He dwells within. And think, "Can two walk together accept they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3) And how can darkness dwell with light? What confusion of soul and mind comes from two opposing kingdoms striving for mastery within! "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 1:4)
     Christ came, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26:18) "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matt 11:28-29) Believe you not that He is ever present, even now, moving throughout you: weaving through the catacombs of your thoughts, deciphering your motives, coursing through your very being?  And that, though He knows all of you He loves you with an everlasting love and with a desire to give you an abundant life; a divine life, a life spent with Him every moment of every day, the end of which will never come?
     Micah 6:8, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8) "Nothing less is required of every one who bears the Christian name...It speaks of a life of prayer and communion with the Eternal; each day begun with fresh self-dedication to Him, and ended in the serene consciousness of His love. Never be contented with a lower level. Never be tempted to imagine that even a life of honesty and benevolence will suffice. Never be satisfied to live a day without intercourse with Heaven." (Thayer, Gaining Favor with God and Man)
     Did you ever notice after having spent a great deal of time with someone who speaks with an accent that you find yourself mimicking their speech pattern, even using the same vocabulary? As you immerse yourself in conversation with God, drinking in the language of the Bible, seeking the mind of God in the pages of Scripture and expanding your vocabulary by taking the time to learn the meaning of those rich Old English words, you will find that not only your thought patterns will change, but your speech patterns as well. Truly, what we admire we emulate; what we love, we become. 

Friday, August 21, 2015


"Oh, how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields!
The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even,
All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
And all the dread magnificence of heaven, 
Oh, how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven?
James Beattie
From, A Complete Spelling Book, 1884

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Can But Marvel

 "Who indeed shall adequately describe any one, the simplest even, of these radiant beings? Day after day, as I watch them appear, one variety after another, in such endless changes of delicate beauty, I can but marvel ever more and more at the exhaustless power of the great Inventor. Must He not enjoy the work of His hands, the manifold perfection of these His matchless creations?"
Celia Thaxter

     While we are seeing the world through Ms. Celia Thaxter's eyes, let's continue on with some thought provoking quotes and questions to excite the young mind toward more noble and beautiful things. Let's sharpen their use of the English language and train them in the art of seeing, feeling, appreciating and then sharing in written form their observations. Following are three quotes used with great success at The Roy Academy.

     "It was so beautiful, --the dewy quiet, the freshness, the long, still shadows, the matchless, delicate, sweet charm of the newly wakened world."

     Have your student answer the following to the best of their ability in their finest penmanship:
1. Describe an early morning that you witnessed.
2. How does the phrase, "dewy quiet" make you feel? (If you cannot feel this phrase, then you MUST visit my garden before 7am tomorrow!)
3. What sounds does one hear in the "newly wakened world"? Describe it so that I may hear it too.
4. According to Psalm 113:3, what are we to begin at the earliest hour and continue through until the end of day?

     "It is such a pleasure and satisfaction to clear the beautiful brown earth, smooth and soft, from these rough growths, leaving the beautiful green Poppies and larkspurs and Pinks and Asters, and the rest, in undisturbed possession!"

1. What time of year is this?
2. How are weeds described?
3. Why is "undisturbed possession" important for flowers in the garden?
4. How can we relate this "undisturbed possession" to our souls and our walk with God?
5. What are some "weeds" that you can remove from the soil of your heart?
(Remember your answers, dear one, and apply them to your life.)

     "Violets, roses, lilies, sweet pea, mignonette, and heliotrope, with a dash of honeysuckle, all mingled in a heavenly whole. There is no perfume which I know that can equal it. And they are so lavish of their scent; it is borne off the garden and wafted everywhere, into the house and here and there in all directions, in viewless clouds on the gentle air."

1. How do the flowers produce their smell?
2. Why is it there?
3. Of the flowers listed, which fragrance is your favorite? How would you describe it to someone?
4. According the the Scriptures, what is a sweet-smelling thing to God? (To answer this question, read the following verses, then summarize to give an answer: Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 5:2; Isaiah 1:13-20)

    Dear Mothers, taking the time to teach your children a deep appreciation for the world in which they dwell and for the God who took such care in the finest details is of great importance in the formation of their character. A careless eye leads to an ungrateful heart and a terribly self-centered life. Many of us were not trained in gardening or journaling our walks in nature, but that does not excuse us from helping our children to taste and see with their own eyes the blessings found in God's creation. Understand that most of this homeschooling journey is one of learning and growing alongside your child; learning and growing with her and sharing that joy of discovery together.

Friday, August 7, 2015


A lady is a complete package. You cannot paste femininity on, it must come forth from within and influence all that you are; all that you wear, say and do; its evidence will be seen in your conversation; in your life as a whole. There is no magic pill: no perfect hairstyle, outfit, spouse, no best friend that will make you a lady in the fullest sense.Think of being a lady as the sum of the parts. Yes, clothing matters, but so does attitude. Yes, neatness in appearance (beauty and health) matters, but so do internal motivations. Yes, tone of voice matters, but so does submission of spirit.

God gives us the framework. We get to utilize our personalities with this framework. Don't be afraid to stretch beyond your fears to become who God has made you to be. We are uptight, trying to fit our squareness into round holes. Stop. Breathe. Stretch. Walk closely with Christ. Let Him stretch you within the beautiful confines of womanhood, ladyhood, femininity. Learn from Him the art delicacy and strength as you've never known and in a way that no man can understand. Everything that you do can be done gracefully. It's in the turn of a wrist, a tilt of the head, a calmness of expression, a relaxing of the shoulders. It's in the way you carry yourself.

See your feet? See your hands?Touch the hair upon your head. Gifts. All precious gifts to be used rightly. Look at that body type you've been given. It is a covering for your glorious organs within that are functioning properly. When did you last thank God for these things? Praise Him for it right now and from this moment on. Your entire being is a miracle. Disdain any part of this and you disdain the Creator who custom made you for your life. Remove all negative thoughts at the gateway of your mind and instead focus on pleasing Him in all you think, do and say, in how you dress, walk, and touch the lives around you. Reset your thoughts every morning. Don't keep looking out towards others to find you. Look up and look in. Breathe. Get ready to really live as you live as the woman you were truly meant to be.

I've been meditating lately on what makes a good photograph. By the way, meditation is a good thing. Learn to think deeply. Give your brain time to process what it is taking in. You can't do that if you are “connected” to devices for the majority of your day, flitting from one juicy bit of info to another, intoxicated on the sweet nectar of knowing who did what with whom and when. Reminds me of the double-minded man verses, and the, “ye cannot serve God and mammon verses, and the, “Think on theses things”verses. Hmmm, seems like some of us have chosen the thralldom (voluntary slavery) of popular culture and have willingly disconnected ourselves from the still small voice of God and that's very sad.

So, what makes a good photograph? Three things, according to me:
  1. Simple lines.
  2. No distracting clothing or background.
  3. True connection of the subject to the one viewing the photograph or to another person within the photograph.
Let's talk about these as I feel they are deeply connected, in an oddly perfect way, to that of being a lady.

First, simple lines. Notice in this artwork entitled, “Elegante,” how a few lines can create a complete image. Precisely! There are very few, and very basic observations that are made in the life of another that actually define the whole person. Simple lines in the life of a true lady can be found in her non-cluttered life. Her speech, her dress, her room, her home, her goals, all follow a simple and direct trajectory determined by her choice to please God first and not have her mind on the opinion of others.

Note this beautiful image of a vase and flowers. This image fits well in our talk about being a lady. I see a continum of grace and proportions as should be seen throughout every aspect of the life of a lady. Just as someone created this arrangement, choosing the color of flower, the texture of the vase, and the canvas of the wall behind it, we are to live deliberately, speak deliberately, act deliberately. What we say is what we mean and what we will do. Our lives need not be complicated.Nothing of great value and worth happens by accident, it takes work. Likewise it is with a beautiful picture, it very rarely is an accident. There is so much effort, thought, study, practice that goes into the creation of a work of art. Friend, we are to love God supremely and we are to love and therefore deal with others and we would have them deal with us. This is the work of a lifetime. If we are to marry, we are to be a keeper of the home with which we are blessed. That will be our focus. Love God. Love others. Care for those things that God has given you charge. To be successful in this requires deliberate focus, attention, and sacrifice.

Next, no distractions in clothing or background. First, clothing. In a portrait, a boldly patterned top is a poor choice. So is wearing a color that isn't right for your skin tone. Also, a lack of material to cover one's self is a distraction from the actual person, the soul in the photograph. So goes our life as a lady. Clothing has a purpose and it can be used to distraction or to attraction to the actual soul within the clothing. We make not only clothing choices, but many other choices daily. This can be likened to having no distractions in our present life as a lady. Choose wisely throughout this day knowing that the minor will greatly affect the major. Daily choices alter the place you land a year from now. Little leaks sink great ships.

As far as background goes, a distracting background could refer to our moral choices, our past. You know, today you are creating your “past” and you are totally in control of that. Even if something devastating were to happen to you, you can still be in total control of your reactions and your attitude towards the event that God Himself allowed. In photography, a good artist will watch the color palette of the entire scene. In great images, the background blends seemlessly with the subject, likewise the pose matches the person. God is working the circumstances in our lives together to seemlessly blend all for our good and for His glory. Put your train car on the track of true womanhood and you'll be surprised how much easier it is to get to where you are supposed to be. We have so much to do with the final image of our life.

Third, true connection. This one fascinates me as a photographer. It is what I'm after every time I shoot. In order to get this from my subject I must first gain their trust. I must allow them to feel safe with me so that they can allow their true self to come forth. You see it in their eyes, their smile and in their body language.
The best way I can do that is to become honestly interested in them as a person, to smile genuinely at them as I listen to them, and to show vulnerability as a human being.

As a lady, true connection to the eternal souls around me can only take place as honesty and vulnerability rise to the surface of my life. I must lay down my pride and my sense of competition. You do realize that it's not a competition between any of us, right? You will wake up one day and realize that so and so was not the standard, nor was she all that you thought she was. You will realize the standard is Christ and that you are in a race against yourself on a very unique course that He has set for you.

The ballerina. This is a beautiful image. Do you know how hard it is to look graceful while performing under great physical strain? This takes great effort, great discipline. Welcome, ladies, to the strength of a woman: Self-control, a fine-tuned body, simple coverings, purpose, determination, and strength. Obtaining a life of simple lines, no distractions and true connection will take great effort on your part. Great effort. But if you will let it be the crowning purpose of your life, to live life as a true lady, it will become the crowning achievement of your life, affecting all those that surround you and that will follow after you.

Take note and set out to learn of the silent influence of a woman. I quote, “Cruelty she despises, and it lessens at her bidding; purtiy she admires and it grows in her presence...” From the same ancient book, “This influence is due not exclusively to the fascination of her charms, but to the strength, uniformity, and consistency of her virtues, maintained under so many sacrifices and with so much fortitude and heroism. Without these endowments and qualifications, external attractions are nothing; but with them, their power is irresistible.” (Golden Gems of Life)

Femininity is not a one size fits all, set in stone, cookie cutter pattern that you can memorize and put on and take off according to your circumstances or depending on the company you keep. I can not show you the one true image of Feminine; I can only describe its qualities and when you find someone displaying these qualities, though the people don't always look the same, you will know a true lady when you see one because these qualities appear in every facet of her life. And her presence in your life will always call you up to a higher plane.

Ladies, it really does matter that your skirt is pressed, that you hold that door open for someone, that you smile at your parents, and thank them. That you move gently through the house, and keep your areas neat. That you not only seek to be good, but to do good. The details matter as it is the little things that make up the whole. Tucked in amongst the gross sins in Romans 1 are the culturally acceptable sins, even within the church, of “disobedient to parents” and “unthankful”. These things ought not so to be. Young ladies, when did you last thank your mom for her care for you? A true lady lives in a constant state of gratitude. How often do you roll your eyes, outwardly or inwardly, as your parents speak to you? A true lady shows respect at all times. Symptoms, my friends, symptoms of a greater and uglier issue. Disobedience and unthankfulness allowed in the child, or within your own life, breeds a contempt for authority and will, if left unchecked, feed the selfish nature and lead to an isolation from God.

Young, sweet one sitting here, you may have learned to dress like a lady, but you may not be acting like one. You cannot have the glory of the title without having earned it. The outward appearance crumbles without a true foundation. Victory and glory comes after a battle. The battle is one of ideas that begins in the mind and must have its foundations based squarely on God's eternal word. Being a lady is the sum of the parts. All of you must be in harmony with the feminine calling on your life. This is who you are! Don't shame the office of woman. It is a high and holy calling to be the one positioned as Keeper of the Home.
To be the one to bear children and to nourish them physically, mentally and spiritually. And to do it all gracefully with great purpose and determination. You will not get up one day and discover that you have become a lady, you must get up every day striving to live up to the honorable title.

God is concerned with your heart, your soul, the fabric of what makes you. Your femininity is a generalized and transparent cloak that hangs on this magnificent infrastructure called You. By creating you as a woman He has given you a beautiful framework in which to accomplish your task. All of this today is to help to you be the best version of you! You have a God. You are a girl. So, this means two things are settled: you know from Whom you are to seek direction (God), and you know how you are to walk your unique path (like a lady).

Femininity looks a bit different on each of us. There are Biblical standards set, such as: having a behavior as becometh holiness, not a false accuser, one that teaches good things, sober, discreet, loves others, chaste, and good, etc. Great respect is given to a true lady. How you carry yourself backs up your speech, your dress, your outward display, or else it eliminates any credibility you may seem to have. Your words will carry so much more weight when backed by a fiercely feminine life. Humans are designed this way. How much more effective could we be to this world if our grace-filled souls were living in harmony with a grace-filled life; our walk, talk, mannerisms, tone of voice, gentleness of touch, sweetness of spirit, all fulfilling God's plan of woman.

Like putting on a beautiful, elegant dress makes you feel beautiful and elegant, so too, the cloak of femininity covers and infiltrates every aspect of your life creating a beautiful world where others will long to dwell; where you are queen and keeper.

(Author's note: photographs #1-8, 11 and 12 we taken from the internet. The rest were taken by the author.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Mother's Prayer

Dearest Lord, may we use this time when our children are small to prepare our hearts to love them as You have loved us; to prepare our hands to serve them through our daily tasks; to prepare our feet to go where You need us to go in order to bring them to You; to prepare our mouths to speak Your words, gently, effectively and continually; to prepare our ears to hear their heart needs; to prepare our eyes to see what holds their affections; and to prepare our minds by filling them with Your Word.  Daily, hourly, moment by moment may we dwell in the knowledge of You. 


ER March, 1998

“O call back yesterday, bid time return!”

   I sat in a coffee shop with a dear young woman awaiting the birth of her first child. I first met this woman when she was 9 months old. I was her babysitter and remained so for the next 8 years. I have a special place in my heart for Katey and it has been years since we sat close, talking and laughing. It reminded me of what a privilege is this task of motherhood. I pray she realizes the enormity of what lay before her and that she would cast her complete dependence upon Christ.

Delivered at a baby shower, spring 2014…

O call back yesterday, bid time return”, says Shakespeare.

There is a wisdom that comes with the years. And could we, who have gone before you, have opportunity to redo our early motherhood, bringing the wisdom of our today back with us to our distant yesterday…hmmmm, but, alas, we cannot. We can only relay to your heart what we see from our vantage point. You sit here in the privileged place of The Beginning. With the birth of this precious soul, you and your husband embark on your own unique journey.
A quote hung in our boys’ room for the longest time: “Your life is like the driven snow. Be careful how you tread it for every track will show.” Your journey of motherhood is yet in its infancy, just like your soon-to-appear newborn babe. I encourage you to handle your new and privileged position of mother as carefully, as delicately and as wisely as you will be handling that lovely and wondrous and miraculous new baby.
A mother is a beautiful thing; purposefully directing her child’s attention to that which is beautiful, lovely, divine. When a mother has conquered herself, her children will feel the blessing of that, as she can now bestow upon them the greatest of blessings. “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:2) Three of the most blessed things that can be bestowed upon a human being: grace, mercy and peace. We can offer these to our children only when we have tasted of them ourselves.
Our life with our children begins with labor; intense, physical labor and great, personal sacrifice. Why do we think that will stop with the birth? Or that it should stop? The labor continues. For we must continue in intense spiritual labors for their souls; entreating God to not only work a miracle of regeneration in their hearts but to also work a miracle of a total transformation of our own heart from selfish woman to selfless mother. Just as a child moves from infancy to toddlerhood where he must learn some very basic lessons such as, “Obey Mommy and Daddy” and “Share”; these are the foundational lessons of submission, sacrifice and selflessness. In this stage of early motherhood great personal sacrifice must continue long after the labor ends as we die to ourselves, namely: to our will, our plans, our personal ambitions, our pride, and learn to serve others with a pure heart.
As the toddler grows and moves to elementary learning, he is quickly faced with the basic building blocks for the advanced lessons yet to come. So, too, for the mother comes some early lessons crucial to future success. I believe that perhaps your greatest need, and one of your most basic lessons as a mother, is going to be in learning how to walk with your God. For life is filled with both the bitter and the sweet. In the midst of Job’s terrible suffering he cried out in profound desire, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him! That I might come even to His seat! I would order my cause before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say unto me. Will He plead against me with His great power? No; but He would put strength in me.” (Job 23:3-6) Job is trusting in God’s mercy and God’s good plan for his life but is struggling to draw the more closely to the only One who can make sense of it all. In the agonizing “whys?” along life’s way there is for the Christian mother the assurance that the All-Powerful God longs to impart this generative power to us, “He would put strength in me”, that we might know Him and understand Him in the midst of the pain and in the turmoil of questioning, that the great I Am is and that He walks with us. Seeking first His strength and His help through His Word and through prayer is key to the lessons yet to come on this journey of motherhood.
Ah, yes, the bittersweet of motherhood. How keenly we feel it. Dear young mother, you know not what lies before you. I encourage you to set your will firmly in line with the Lord’s and drink in the entire experience. Ladies, remember labor? What were we coached to do? “Breathe, Breathe! Work with the pain.” That advice is very good! That advice carries through long after the labor pains have passed: terrors such as the realization that this child, this eternal soul, makes its own choices, and must suffer its own consequences; the brutal reality that this child has its own will; and that much of her life is completely out of our control. Mothers: Breathe! Pray! Breathe! Pray! As natural as breathing, should be our communication with God. A continual conversation should flow from our hearts to His throne. This sweet, this precious, this hard, this scary, this exhausting, this exhilarating experience of motherhood; drink it in deeply. Savor the cup.
Throw yourself into this motherhood. Give it your very all. The master passion of your life has been decided for you as you now bear the title of mother. Succeed you must! And in Him, succeed you will. From the old book, The Golden Gems of Life, “Success is the child of confidence and perseverance. The talent of success is simply doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do, without a thought of fame…Success in life is the proper and harmonious development of those faculties which God has given us. Whatever you try to do in life, try with all your heart to do it well; whatever you devote yourself to, devote yourself to it completely. …There is no substitute for thorough-going, ardent, sincere earnestness.” And I say, there is no failing as a mother if you seek to live fully in the present; devoting yourself to your sacred calling and to God; striving daily to walk with Him in lowliness of mind and meekness of heart bringing your children alongside of you.
There is no “perfect”. The finish line is death. Our goal is to spend ourselves for Christ while we yet have breath. The race is your own and your only competition is you. God has called you to the task of motherhood. Rise to its challenge. Die trying if you must but don’t quit. I remember a time of terror during one of my pregnancies when I believed I could not move forward. I still had some months left before the delivery, and being my fourth, I knew what was ahead. I wasn’t up for this task and all that lay before me. I had completely panicked. My husband leaned over my hospital bed, held my hand, looked into my eyes and said, “You must. There’s a baby in there who is counting on you. You must and you can.” There was no way out but forward! So, too, in this Christian life. Fears? Yep, but face them we must. Fatigue? Most certainly, but wisely pressing onward we must go. Failures? Absolutely! “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again...”
Don’t give up! You cannot avoid the lessons slated for you to learn. We must remain at our post and overcome. The enemy is waiting, lurking, seeking whom he may devour. There is a child, perhaps children counting on you not to give up but to pursue your calling of Mother with every fiber of your being.
Let me encourage you today, all of you dear, dear ladies: a mother is a beautiful thing; an emblem of grace and beauty; of survival and selflessness. Grace, mercy and peace… A gentle hand, a smiling eye, a patient response… …these are some of the great blessings in this life and you have the power to freely give them. Are you deserving of that forgiveness, of that grace, of that mercy Christ has brought to you? Neither are your children nor your husband worthy. Freely you have been given, freely give. Live today as one who holds the gracious trust of mother and dispense your influence wisely to those particular souls that have been positioned at your feet, on your lap, at your side by God Himself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Matthew M. Roy
Valedictorian Williamson 1W5
Commencement Address by Senior Class President

I brought along a prop: the student handbook, aka The Rule Book. I will admit, Mr. Moffit, (Dean of Student Affairs) this looks much smaller than it did freshman year. Then again, everything seems smaller since freshman year. Guys, (addressing fellow graduates) this is not a trick question. Does this rule book directly apply to you once you receive your diploma? No. That is correct. You are no longer held to the same standard as you were during your time here at Williamson. Let me ask you another question. Since you were held to a redefined standard when you entered Williamson, is it possible to say that you will also be held to a redefined standard as you now enter a new phase of your life? Yes. Let me be so bold as to take that logic to the next step. You will be held to a standard, by others around you, but most importantly by yourself.

My dad has a saying: “Matt, that's just a fact of life.” You know, for a while I thought that was just something my dad said when he was making a point. But after a while I began to see a pattern emerge, when he would say, “that's just a fact of life.” The principle that he was teaching would be consistent in all areas of life. Some people would call these maxims; others say that they are the rules of nature. But, let me explain. Everyone should know this one, and shout out if you do, “What goes up...” And, “Water follows the path....” There you go! Now, Williamson men, “Don't walk on the...(grass).” And, “Don't step on the …. (seal).” Those are easy, and we all should know them. But how about the ones that are not written down, how about the rules of life: maxims by which to live. We all know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That is a great one, but do we ever apply it to our lives?

     Rules are so much easier to obey when you are not worried about where the line is. Has anybody else ever noticed that? To this day I'm not entirely sure what the failing grade is, I just made sure that I aimed for the highest possible grade I could achieve. I never had to worry about how many hours I had left before they kicked me out, I just tried to never get any. The same thing applies to our lives.If you strive to be a man of faith, you won't have to worry about what others think. If you strive to be a man of integrity, you won't have to worry about people not trusting you. If you strive to be diligent in all areas of life, you will never be called lazy. If excellence is your aspiration, mediocrity will never be acceptable. If you are a servant to those around you, selfishness will no longer be your biggest challenge.

     If you are a man of character, you won't have to worry about how far down you are, because you are only looking at the next step ahead. Let me say that a different way, if you are a Williamson man of character, you won't worry about how close to the cliff you can slide, because you are as far away from it as you can be. A poor work ethic will never be a problem, because you are putting all of your effort to be the hardest working man on the team.
     Don't be a man that tries to apply the principles when it is convenient and easy...own them! That means when hard times come, you try harder. That means when you have to make a choice that seems impossible, you don't give up until you have seen the task through. That means when you fail. You will get back up and run faster. That means when you don't know the answer, you run and find it. When you own your principles, you don't have to worry about anyone else around you, because you know that you are consistently doing what is right.A man of character will accept who he is, and take responsibility for who he will become. 
     You control the outcome of your life, we are all given the gift of free will, and it is the daily choices that we make that set us apart. It is not the circumstances around you that determine the kind of man you are, it is what you do with the circumstances in which you have been placed that demonstrate the man you truly are.That means, Freshmen, when you are the only one that seems to be trying; it won't matter to you; because you are looking straight ahead to your goals. That means, Juniors, you will take a stand as the leader. Why? Because you are a man with principles and that is the only option. And that is why, Seniors, all of you can succeed; because failure is not in your vocabulary. We simply will never know what it is life to fall and not to get back up because we have the determination to push harder. Be a man of character, and nobody will ever doubt that you are a Williamson man.


Poole Forge, Lancaster County

     It was a beautiful day. The children set off for Lancaster County to rent scooters for half the day. They left early as they needed to be out there by 9:00. The weather was unusually chilly and a bit windy. The thermometer climbed only to about 68 degrees that day. With youthful enthusiasm, off they went! Plans were made for Matthew and Dyanna to split from the group and for Grammy and Grandpop to meet at the covered bridge at Poole Forge along with Ron, Grace and me. 
     Matthew chose a lovely walking path at Money Rocks Park that led to a rocky high point overlooking the valley. There, he got down on bended knee and proposed to his chosen one. He offered her his name and a beautiful ring. She accepted.
     I admire this man who at the age of 20 has set his heart and mind towards something and is filled with the courage to pursue it. 
In the evening, after the proposal
 Hunsicker's Grove, Mertztown, PA