Thy work alone, O Christ

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light.
’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

~Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889~

Fall Day

Instead of giving in to the hard morning I’m having, I am flipping over my calendar page a day early, and trying to embrace October instead of sticking my tongue out at it. So I’m lighting a seasonal candle, baking pumpkin cookies, and reading a Keates poem on fall. Later Gabriel and I will go play in the pine needles outside and work in the garden.

To Autumn
by John Keats (1820)
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Fresh Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice (I added a little cloves and nutmeg too)
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups sugar
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
4 cups flour (sifted)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups raisins (I did 1 cup golden raisins, 1 cup mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Blend all ingredients thoroughly.
Drop one inch dough balls onto greased cookie sheet.
Baking time 10 minutes.

Leaning Hard

Child of My love, lean hard
And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;
I know thy burden, child. I shaped it;
Posed it in Mine Own hand; made no proportion
In its weight to thine unaided strength,
For even as I laid it on, I said,
“I shall be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden shall be Mine, not hers;
So shall I keep My child within the circling arms
Of My Own love.” Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder which upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come:
Thou art not near enough. I would embrace thy care;
So I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
Thou lovest Me? I knew it. Doubt not then;
But loving Me, lean hard.

~Streams In The Desert~

from “Streams In The Desert”

When is the time to trust?
Is it when all is calm,
When waves the victor’s palm,
And life is one glad psalm
Of joy and praise?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when the waves beat high,
When storm clouds fill the sky,
And prayer is one long cry,
O help and save!

When is the time to trust?
Is it when friends are true?
Is it when comforts woo,
And in all we say and do
We meet but praise?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when we stand alone,
And summer birds have flown,
And every prop is gone,
All else but God.

What is the time to trust?
Is it some future day,
When you have tried your way,
And learned to trust and pray
By bitter woe?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is in this moment’s need,
Poor, broken, bruised reed!
Poor, troubled soul, make speed
To trust thy God.

What is the time to trust?
Is it when hopes beat high,
When sunshine gilds the sky,
And joy and ecstasy
Fill all the heart?
Nay! but the time to trust
Is when our joy is fled,
When sorrow bows the head,
And all is cold and dead,
All else but God.

~Streams In The Desert~

Not In Vain!

Not in vain, the tedious toil, On an unresponsive soil,
Travail, tears in secret shed, Over hopes that lay as dead.
All in vain, thy faint heart cries. Not in vain, thy Lord replies:
Nothing is to good to be; Then believe, believe to see.

Did thy labor turn to dust? Suff’ring – did it eat like rust
Till the blade that once was keen, As a blunted tool is seen?
Dust and rust thy life’s reward? Slay the thought; believe thy Lord!
When thy soul is in distress, Think upon His faithfulness.

Though there be not fig nor vine, In thy stall there be no kine,
Flock be cut off from the fold, Not a single lamb be told,
And thy olive berry fall Yielding no sweet oil at all,
Pulse-seed wither in the pod – Still do thou rejoice in God.

But consider, was it vain, All the travail on the plain?
For the bud is on the bough; It is green where thou didst plow.
Listen, tramp of little feet, Call of little lambs that bleat;
Hearken to it. Verily, Nothing is too good to be.

~Amy Carmichael~


Many mothers apply this beautiful poem to the toil of motherhood.

I personally apply it to my toil in search of motherhood. A large part of me desperately wants to give up. It is too hard to keep trying to have children, keep losing them to early death, and now to have doctor after doctor give me news that this may well just be the story of my life (especially without some drastic interventions). “It is in vain,” I often hear my brain telling myself, “Give up now while you still have a chance and before the ridicule gets any heavier.”

But, like it or not, God has called us to a particular path — and apparently it just includes more drastic interventions than I ever dreamed would be necessary. God continues to give wisdom when we seek it: to us as we use our weak selves to ram down the doors of Heaven and beseech our Father with frequent & fervent prayers, to my parents who are helping us seek godly wisdom & wise counselors, specifically to my father who is most actively pounding down physical doors to attain the golden gift of wisdom. And since God is leading us, it is not in vain. Most certainly not. Whatever His purposes are, they are most definitely not vain.

And so this poem, in all its striking beauty and truth, brings me to hiccups of tears every time I read it.

My life is not in vain.
My womb is not in vain.
My childrens’ lives (no matter how short on earth) are not in vain.
Our prayers are not in vain.
Our desires are not in vain.
The research, the consultations, the tests are not in vain.
The medical treatments are not in vain.
Not a single shot, pill, blood draw, or infusion is in vain.
These myriads of “little deaths” that I am called to die for my family are not in vain.

And this, my friends, is good news for this tired, broken mama. Good news, indeed.

Monday May 3, 2010

I read a few Samuel Rutherford quotes today, and this one particularly blessed me:

I dare not say but my Lord Jesus hath fully recompensed my sadness with His joys,
my losses with His own presence.
I find it a sweet and rich thing to exchange my sorrows with Christ’s joys,
my afflictions with that sweet peace I have with Himself.

And a couple of Amy Carmichael poems, including this sweet gem:

And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But no, Lord, no, that never shall be; rather,
I pray Thee, blend my human will with Thine.
I pray Thee, hush the hurrying, eager longing;
I pray Thee, soothe the pangs of keen desire;
See in my quiet places wishes thronging;
Forbid them, Lord; purge, though it be with fire.
And work in me to will and do Thy pleasure;
Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled,
Tarry, content my Well-beloved’s leisure–
At last, at last, even as a weaned child.

I am continuing through “The One Year Book of Hope” — I am just beginning a section on Angels, and am looking forward to that.
I have also started “A Grief Observed,” and will soon share some of my favorite quotes/excerpts.
Lastly, I am about to finish reading “Womanly Dominion” — always good to be reminded of my beautiful role as wife, mother, sister, princess, and homekeeper for God.

Tuesday April 20, 2010

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

~Francis of Assisi, cir­ca 1225 (Can­ti­co di frat­re so­le, Song of Bro­ther Sun). He wrote this hymn short­ly be­fore his death, but it was not pub­lished for al­most 400 years. Trans­lat­ed to Eng­lish by William H. Draper for a children’s Whit­sun­tide fes­ti­val in Leeds, Eng­land; first ap­peared in the Pub­lic School Hymn Book, 1919~

Thou hidden source of calm repose,
Thou all sufficient love divine,
My help and refuge from my foes,
Secure I am if Thou art mine;
And lo! from sin and grief and shame
I hide me, Jesus, in Thy Name.

Thy mighty Name salvation is,
And keeps my happy soul above;
Comfort it brings, and power and peace,
And joy and everlasting love;
To me with Thy dear Name are given
Pardon and holiness and Heaven.

Jesus, my all in all Thou art,
My rest in toil, my ease in pain,
The healing of my broken heart,
In war my peace, in loss my gain,
My smile beneath the tyrant’s frown,
In shame my glory and my crown.

In want my plentiful supply,
In weakness my almighty power,
In bonds my perfect liberty,
My light in Satan’s darkest hour,
In grief my joy unspeakable,
My life in death, my Heaven in hell.

~Charles Wesley, “Hymns and Sac­red Po­ems“, 1749~

Psalm 4
(With interspersed thoughts by me, praying this psalm, in italics.)

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
(Sometimes I feel like I am literally begging You to answer. And sometimes I can’t tell if you do.)
   You have given me relief when I was in distress.
(You are my only relief. My distress chases me daily. Continue to be my relief!)
   Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
(Hear me, please. Listen to the cries of your maidservant. Have mercy on my humble estate.)

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
   How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?
(Oh Lord, sometimes I feel like my own honor is shameful. I feel tempted to love vanity and lies, as it is sometimes easier than loving righteousness and truth, for the devil is sugar-coated and cunning. Cause me to be honorable. And cause me to not only seek righteousness and truth, but to love it with every bone in my body.)

But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for Himself;
   the LORD hears when I call to Him.
(Lord, I am Yours; You have called me and adopted me as Your child. As my Father, hear my prayers, my calls, my cries, my pleas.)

Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
(So often, Lord, I feel anger bubbling up inside. Sometime it is righteous anger, and sometimes it is not. Forgive me, Father, for sinning in anger. Teach me to have anger only as You do. As I silently lie here and ponder You and Your kingdom, Your people and Your ways; teach me righteous love, righteous compassion, and righteous anger. I am angry at sin, at death, at their consequences.)

Offer right sacrifices,
   and put your trust in the LORD.
(I bring you a broken spirit, my Lord, a broken and contrite heart. Be please to accept these sacrifices, as I praise You both in joy and in tears. Cause me to trust You more and more each day, and lead me paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake.)

 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O LORD!”
(People have asked me recently why I trust You. And how I know that You lift the light of Your face upon us. Of this I am confident, though: You do, and You will. Show us some good, my Lord, according to Your great measure of mercies.)
You have put more joy in my heart
   than they have when their grain and wine abound.
(The joy in my heart comes from You, from Your salvation, from Your promises to me as Your child. All the promises of earth and vanity are nothing but vapors and lies. Remind me daily, my King, to drink from the well of joy You have placed in my heart by Your grace.)

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
   for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
(Thank You for peace, for rest, for eternal safety in Your bosom. Thank You, my Father, for these blessings! Bless and keep us, and make Your face to shine upon us, lift up Your countenance upon us, and give us peace. You are our shepherd and captain. Keep us mindful of Your careful, gentle hand; show us Your mighty protection and wise guiding.)

Wednesday April 7, 2010

Lord of the brooding blue
Of pleasant summer skies,
Lord of each little bird that through
The clear air flies,
‘Tis wonderful to me
That I am loved by Thee.

Lord of the blinding heat,
Of mighty wind and rain,
The city’s crowded street,
Desert and peopled plain,
‘Tis wonderful to me
That I am loved by Thee.

Lord of night’s jeweled roof,
Day’s various tapestry,
Lord of the warp and woof
Of all that yet shall be,
‘Tis wonderful to me
That I am loved by Thee.

Lord of my merry cheers,
My grey that turns to gold,
And my most private tears
And comforts manifold,
‘Tis wonderful to me
That I am loved by Thee.

~Amy Carmichael~

Sunday April 4, 2010


Praise to the Lord, our Father, our Savior, our indwelling Spirit ~ He alone has triumphed over sin and death, conquering even the grave. Rejoice, for He and His people are free of bondage to death, free to eternal life and perfect resurrection. Amen!


Now let the vault of Heav’n resound
In praise of love that doth abound,
“Christ hath triumphed, alleluia!”
Sing, choirs of angels, loud and clear,
Repeat their song of glory here,
“Christ hath triumphed, Christ hath triumphed!”
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Eternal is the gift He brings,
Wherefore our heart with rapture sings,
“Christ hath triumphed, Jesus liveth!”
Now doth He come and give us life,
Now doth His presence still all strife
Through His triumph; Jesus reigneth!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

O fill us, Lord, with dauntless love;
Set heart and will on things above
That we conquer through Thy triumph,
Grant grace sufficient for life’s day
That by our life we ever say,
“Christ hath triumphed, and He liveth!”
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Adoring praises now we bring
And with the heavenly blessèd sing,
“Christ hath triumphed, Alleluia!”
Be to the Father, and our Lord,
To Spirit blest, most holy God,
Thine the glory, never ending!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

~Paul Strodach (1876-1947)~


The promise of the resurrection is especially precious to us this Easter, as we have more children in heaven this year than we had ever previously imagined. While the worship service this morning was beautiful (complete with trumpets, trombone, organ, piano, choir, singing, Scripture, Lord’s Supper…), it was also cutting. Speaking of resurrection is always bittersweet for us. It reminds us of our children. It reminds us of future hope. And hope is just so hard right now that it is hard to pretend anymore. I am thankful for Christ’s death, because it lead to resurrection ~ and because it is a reminder that my children, who are ultimately His children, have also triumphed over death. And someday I too will succumb to the dust of the earth, and I too will overcome death for life.



Today I am especially thankful.

Praise the Lord! Alleluia! Amen!


1 Peter 1:3
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…!”

Thursday April 1, 2010

Of course you know that we love Jamie Soles’ music. Gabriel is one of his biggest fans. 🙂
And this week I have had the cd “Memorials” playing in the car. I thought it was appropriate, as we are in Holy Week, which is all about remembering what the Lord has done & accomplished.
I just wanted to share some of my favorite lyrics this week from this particular disc.

The song “Take A Lamb” (I really love the covenantal aspect to this song/story):

Take a lamb, lead a spotless lamb to the slaughter
For the sake of yourselves, your sons and your daughters
Put the blood on the doorposts and the lintel of your house
When the angel comes he will see and pass over

The blood will be to Me a sign
That all within the house are Mine
Those who eat the lamb are delivered from My Hand
I will take them to the land that I have promised

Take a lamb, lead a spotless lamb to the slaughter
For the sake of yourselves, your sons and your daughters
Put the blood on the doorposts and the lintel of your house
When the angel comes he will see and pass over

You shall remember this day
As an evermore memorial to Me
You shall keep the feast, from the greatest to the least
You shall take and eat, remember and believe

Take a lamb, lead a spotless lamb to the slaughter
For the sake of yourselves, your sons and your daughters
Put the blood on the doorposts and the lintel of your house
When the angel comes he will see and pass over you

From the song “Twelve Stones” (I appreciate the “so” part of this song – that all peoples will know Yahweh is strong, and that you may fear God):

Twelve tribes, twelve men
Twelve stones from Jordan
Taken from where the priests were standing
To the bank to be set up
For the people to see (set them up)
For your own memory
And when your children ask
“What does this mean? (what does this mean?)

You say “The Lord your God
Dried up the waters of the Jordan
Until you passed through
Just like He did at the sea
When He set us all free
So that all the people of the earth
May know that the hand of Yahweh is strong
And so that you may fear the Lord your God forever

The song “Unto My Memorial” (I just love this whole song, and it tends to go through my mind every Lord’s Day as our pastor prepares the Lord’s Supper for us):

Now, now when I hear of your coming together
I hear your coming is not for the better
I hear your coming is now for the worse
Now I hear that there are divisions among you
I hear you keeping up factions among you
I hear you turning this peace to a curse

For some of you are going ahead
And some of you are going hungry
And some of you are getting drunk
And despising those with nothing
By this you despise the Church of God

For I received from the Lord
What I also delivered to you
That the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed
Took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said

This is My body which is for you
Do this (do this) unto My memorial
This is My body which is for you
Do this (do this) unto My memorial
In the same way He took the cup and said
Do this (do this) unto My memorial
This cup is the new covenant in My blood
Do this (do this) unto My memorial

Let there be no divisions among you
Put away your factions
No more turning this peace into a curse
This is My Body

This is My body which is for you
Do this (do this) unto My memorial
This is My body which is for you
Do this (do this) unto My memorial
This is My body which is for you
Do this (do this) unto My memorial
This is My body which is for you
Do this (do this) unto My memorial
Unto My memorial, unto My memorial