Archive | August 2012

garden gifts

Hebrews 13:6 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Earlier this summer my husband and I took a drive out in the country to deliver an antique scale he was giving to a friend of his. I had not met the gentleman or his wife before but my husband had told me all about them. He said I would be in awe of their home and gardens. He was right. They had a unique collection of items and a flair for putting objects together in an interesting way. Part of the house was a log cabin they had moved and reassembled. It was beautiful inside and out. It was chock full of antiques. I enjoyed viewing the house but as we were looking around I kept glancing out the window at the gardens. They were gorgeous.

After our tour of the house as the men visited on the porch the lady asked if I would like to look around her gardens. I jumped at the chance. As we headed out she turned back and said, “Oh wait, let me get my digger.” As we toured her gardens she was most generous, offering me “starts” of any plants I wanted. She had many perennials that I already had growing in my garden but as I scanned her beautiful gardens I spotted several plants that were new to me. It was so much fun. We did not even know each other but we were both gardeners at heart, kindred spirits enjoying nature. “Oh, would you like some of this black fountain grass?” and “Hey, do you have any Spiderwort?” I noticed that her Hollyhocks had the same brown spots on them mine had this year. “Yes, she said, it’s a blight, they need to be pruned back so they can start over. Clip them clear down to the base and watch what they do.” It was so much fun to look and talk and dig. She was as happy to share as I was to have the new plants. After we had everything gathered up she went to her shed and got some old pots. She watered everything real good and put the pots in plastic bags for the trip home. My husband just shook his head when I rounded the corner with my goodies. As we were leaving I told her I would return the favor if she ever came to my garden and saw something new. It was a wonderful day; A day of nature and sharing and new friendships.

I did not go to this home to get anything. I went because my husband was giving something away. We were supposed to be the givers yet in giving we received a blessing as well. My visit to her home was a wonderful adventure. She did not neglect to do good. She did not hesitate to share. Her sacrifice blessed me and I know it pleased God.
A 12th Century Prayer

Oh Lord Jesus,true gardener,work in us what you want of us,
For you are indeed the true gardener, maker and tiller and keeper of your garden.

You who plant with the word, water with the spirit and give your increase with your power.

Cisterician Guerric of Igny 12th century

Contributed by Marge McCoy

praise his name forever

Praise His Name Forever!

Come and stand before His throne,
Make His wondrous glories known;
Bought salvation for His own;
Praise His Name forever!

Crucified to set men free
From reigning evil’s tyranny;
Lifted up for all to see;
Praise His Name forever!

Blood from head, hands, feet and side
Flowed to fill sin’s chasm wide;
God’s wrath forever satisfied;
Praise His Name forever!

Darkest sin shall not prevail
O’er pardon bought by thorn and nail;
Such wondrous grace can never fail;
Praise His Name forever!

Christ, God’s everlasting Son
O’er death the final vict’ry won;
Now God and man, the twain made one;
Praise His Name forever!

Come and let the anthems ring; All tongues proclaim, all nations sing;
To Him your sweetest offerings bring;
Praise His Name forever!


Poem by Stephen Balga

Photo by Cheryl Cook

what lies behind

…but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3: 13, 14

Last year at this time, I was getting ready to send my son off to college. I told myself I’d be fine.

For weeks before, I’d busied myself with collecting all of the things he’d need for his dorm; sheets and blankets, towels, a first aid kit. I baked cookies, and I bought all of his favorite foods to stock the cupboards in his new kitchen. When the big day arrived, I drove him to school, trying to convince myself we were both embarking on a great adventure. I’ll be fine, I told myself, as I made up his bed and stocked his fridge. Just fine, fine fine.

But by the time my husband and I arrived back home, I wasn’t fine at all. I wandered into my son’s bedroom, and four years’ worth of football pictures and wrestling medals nearly broke my heart. I grieved the passing of the last four years, and tried to recall how it came about that they’d so quickly slipped away. For weeks, memories of my son as a little boy flashed across my mind, followed by regrets. Why didn’t I ever do this… and if only I’d done that instead. One October afternoon, as I drove by the field and saw the Varsity football team practicing, I burst into tears. I knew I had to get ahold of myself, but how?

In those first weeks, I treasured the bits of news my son chose to share with me — news about dorm life, his classes, his new friends. I loved hearing about the papers he’d written for English Lit and the arts festival he’d gone to. After a few weeks, I realized that my relationship with my son had not disappeared, it had simply evolved to a different level. I no longer felt I had to manage his money, control his behavior, or nag about his homework. That was not my role any more. And instead of looking back, I started to look eagerly toward the future – both his and mine.

Sometimes I catch myself doing the same types of things in my spiritual life. I hang onto the past, beating myself up for sins that have already been forgiven. I focus on my past accomplishments, reliving them over and over, when there’s so much more work that needs to be done. I dwell on the former, rather than living in the wonderful here and now. As author Rick Warren said in his book, The Purpose Driven Life : The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to let go of what is done and over with. Help me to accomplish what You would have me accomplish today. Help me to live in the wonderful here and now, and to be aware of Your presence and Your grace. And forgetting what lies behind, help me to press on toward goals that are eternal. Amen

Contributed by Jean Pike

another page from my mother’s journal

July, 1989

 Today was one of those sultry, humid days, the air so heavy it seemed to form drops of moisture on your skin. The house opened its doors today after being closed up for two years. “Estate Sale” the sign said, and people swarmed in, filling the once still house with a buzz of conversation.

Some were strangers to the house, others, acquaintances, and others, dear friends and neighbors. “She had no one,” I heard, “no children or relatives. The money will go to a boys’ home.”

The staff had done its job well – her goods were boxed and ready for the scrambling, inquisitive public.

$2 box. $4 box. Each item 50 cents.

Her furniture was lined up with a price tag on each piece, already glaring holes where someone had carried out a treasure.

In the dining room, a long table was filled with her jewelry and knick-knacks. A ceramic Christmas tree blinked oddly in the July heat. “Did she make this?” someone asked. “No, it was a gift.”

I pressed on into the kitchen, noting her bottle of dish soap and cloth, still on the drainboard of the sink. The kitchen items were also divided into categories and boxed accordingly.

$2. Box $4. Box. 50 cents an item.

Canned goods, spices, even flour and sugar – What unwelcome guests might be harbored within those two-year-old packages.

On upstairs I stepped, into brightly papered rooms – all in disarray. Only a short time since the sale began and already people were carrying out box after box of her things.

She liked to sew, two machines attested to this, one old treadle, gleaming black and gold in an old oak case. Sold a sign said. The other, a newer version, was still set up with bright red thread and bobbin,  all the attachments and instruction book neatly placed in a box beside.

$2 box. $4 box. Each item 50 cents.

Unfinished squares of a quilt, scraps of brightly colored fabrics. Another bedroom—her full-length mirror, boxes of doilies, lace, pillow cases with hand-crocheted edging. My eyes were drawn to a pretty, pieced bed cover done in a pattern called Dresden Plate. It was worn from many washings. $5. I could not resist, so I, too, began to pick up treasures.

While some carried out boxes of dishes, a mixer, a cleaner, their arms overburdened with bargains, dear friends and neighbors each chose one thing – an old English tea pot, a trinket remembered from a long-past childhood, a crystal vase. “One little thing,” I heard over and over. “Just to remember her by.”

By Elizabeth “Betty” Garrigues


Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Hymn by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1923

Photo by Elizabeth Pike

stand alone

I have watched you from afar

And I’ve admired your strength to stand alone

Though storms would come and rage around you

You never faltered

I often wish I had your power

To lean and sway against the cold harsh world

And be made stronger

As the winter days grow longer

So stand alone you mighty tree

And I will dream you stand by me

I like to sit within your shadow

As I envision all the lonely years I looked to you

And felt a bond with your solitude

You would catch the tears from heaven

And on your massive bough

You bore the wind

As I nestle near the weathered bark

That veils your years

So stand alone you mighty tree

And I will dream you stand by me

Poem and photo by Carol Allen

pray without ceasing

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

The life of Jesus is the ultimate example of a person who prayed persistently at all times. He awoke early to pray: “Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

He stayed up all night praying: “In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).

He prayed prayers of praise: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike” (Matthew 11:25).

He prayed prayers of blessing: “Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd” (Luke 9:16).

He prayed prayers of thanksgiving: “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 41-42).

He prayed prayers of petition: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

Jesus, the Son of the living God, prayed regularly, day and night, at all times. By his example, he calls us to do the same.

Jesus calls us to maintain an uninterrupted and constant spirit of prayer, every day of our lives. He calls us to pray without ceasing.


Photo by Elizabeth Pike

Devotional courtesy of John Brasley – Visit John’s Blog at:



Soon after we adopted our son at 10 months of age my father in law installed hooks in the ceiling of his front porch for a baby swing.  Like most children, our son loved to be in motion and enjoyed many hours swinging on grandpa’s porch. After our little boy got older my mother in law suggested they remove the hooks but grandpa said with a wink: “No, let’s leave them . . . we might need them again someday.” By the time we adopted our daughter she was almost four years old and too big for a baby swing so the hooks sat idle and the swing stayed in the attic. A few times when they had visitors with a young one grandpa would go to the attic and retrieve the swing and place it on the hooks for an afternoon of fun. Time marched along and our children grew and we forgot all about the hooks and the swing. Now that grandpa is gone and grandma in a nursing home we spent untold hours cleaning out the house, readying it for a sale. The little baby swing sold at the yard sale and the house was put on the market.

This week a young couple with a little nine month old boy stated moving their furniture into the house. One of the first things we noticed was a little baby swing hanging on grandpa’s hooks. It filled my heart with a warm happy feeling when I saw that swing there the first time. I thought, “Way to go grandpa, someone did need your hooks.” This made me stop and think of the great man my father in law was and the other wonderful things he left behind for his children, grandchildren, church and community. It might take years but the good things we do, the kindness we scatter, the wisdom we share, will be there for future generations.


Proverbs 13:22    A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.


Devotional and photo by Marge McCoy


sinfully delicious

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. — Hebrews 12:11


My mother made the tastiest oatmeal cake. There was something about the blend of sugar and spice, the sweet tang of cloves…one whiff of that oatmeal cake baking in the oven and all was right with the world. But the icing on the cake, figuratively and literally, was her coconut cream frosting. Birthdays, holidays – so many wonderful childhood memories are centered around that cake. And one not-so-good one.

I was probably six or seven, on that fateful afternoon when I arrived home from school and smelled the unmistakable scent of oatmeal cake. You can imagine my disappointment when my mother told me the cake was for a raffle at the fire hall the next day. Later, as I watched her spread that delectable frosting over the cake, I begged for a taste and she gave me a spoonful. I made it last as long as I could. But it simply wasn’t enough. All evening, I thought about the cake. Lying in bed that night, I could hardly stand the thought of it sitting on the counter, all covered up with tinfoil. Tantalized, hypnotized, I got out of bed and crept to the kitchen. Just a taste, I thought. One teeny, tiny taste.

But it wasn’t enough. One taste led to another, and before I knew it, the lovely cake was wrecked, not a speck of coconut frosting remained, and I was feeling more than a little green around the gills. Needless to say, my mother was not happy when she discovered what I’d done. And to make matters worse, I lied about it. As a punishment, I was not allowed to eat dessert for an entire month. I was devastated. How could my mother be so mean? After all, I’d given myself a stomach ache, hadn’t I? Wasn’t that punishment enough? It wasn’t until years later that I understood  that mom’s punishments were not meant to hurt me. They were meant to help me learn important life lessons, things like self-control, honesty, and integrity.

That’s the way it is with God. So often, one small wrong snowballs into something huge and we find ourselves wrecked, sickened, our consciences devastated. A loving Father, God corrects us so that we can develop the character traits He desires in us. He weeds out the sin so that the fruits of His Spirit can grow. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Gentleness. Self- control.

Prayer: Thank You, heavenly father, that You love me enough to correct me. Though it may not be pleasant at the time, I know that Your discipline will, in the end, make me more like Your son, Jesus. I thank You that no matter how many times I fail, as many times as I ask Your forgiveness, You open Your loving arms and welcome me back to the center of your love.

Contributed by Jean Pike