Archive | September 2012

it is well

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, withmy soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

Hymn It is Well With My Soul, by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

Photo by Cheryl Cook

 

 

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bountiful harvest

Late summer in our part of the world is a time when God’s blessings to us are on conspicuous display.  Fruit trees sag under the weight of all kinds of beautiful, nutritious, and delicious fruits hung there by the hand of a generous Creator.  Gardens seem to overflow with corn, beans, tomatoes, and lots of other wonderful foods – each one assembled and placed by the hand of God for our benefit.  Did you ever notice that almost nothing that grows in the garden is bad for you?  Evidences of God’s blessings on us are everywhere this time of year.

Unfortunately, we don’t always notice or appreciate the blessings God has generously provided.  An editor of The Lookout once noted that we Americans are so blessed that we don’t even know what blessings are anymore.

Fortunately, we have a reminder of God’s greatest blessing to us at the communion table.  The greatest blessing God has ever given mankind is Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice for our sins.  God knows we need a lot of reminding so he had Christ institute this ritual with an instruction to do it in remembrance of Him.

As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29:

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper He took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  NIV

Praise the Lord that he has even supplied what we need to not take God’s blessings – especially his greatest blessing – for granted.

By Bob McCoy

the contest

Proverbs 31:31 Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

My grandmother was a hard working woman. She was a wife, mother, school teacher, piano player, story teller and reader. She was a strong woman, born in 1902, growing up in tough economic times. She was raised on a farm and loved the outdoors. She was well educated and graduated from college when many women didn’t even make it through high school. She went on to have a long career as a school teacher. Grandma always did the necessary inside chores and she loved to sit and read but she also loved to be outside. She used to say she would rather be in the garden than the kitchen. Grandma was always very active. She even played on one of the first girls basketball teams during her college days. Another interesting thing about my grandma was that she didn’t like to be told she couldn’t do something. To her there were no boy chores and girl chores. There were no activities just for the young or only the old. Grandma loved a challenge and once she decided to do something she enjoyed doing her very best. She encouraged her children and grandchildren to do the same.

 

I recently came across some old family albums and scrapbooks. In one book I found a hand written account of one of grandma’s accomplishments. This handwritten treasure complete with a photo was preserved for future generations by her father, my great grandfather. I can only imagine his pride in his daughter as he wrote this short account and glued the picture into his scrapbook.

 

From Great Grandfather’s Scrapbook: “Some time around 1918 or 20 a state wide garden project was inaugurated. Pupils that engaged in it planted a measured 1/8 acre, hired the team work done and did the rest themselves. They kept a strict account of all work and expenses, making a full report to the Agriculture Department at Ithaca. Lucile is shown here with her corn. A delegation came from Ithaca telling her that her project was the best in the state and they were very sorry that the most they could do was award her the blue ribbon as there were no prizes offered.”

Grandma may not have received a monetary prize but she had the satisfaction of a job well done. She had the pride of her family and the fun of watching her hard work receive recognition. I bet she was especially happy to have beaten the boys. I’m so glad great grandfather pieced together a scrapbook for although grandma often told family stories about her childhood, farm life, her teen years and her teaching days I don’t remember her telling about the corn contest. I never remember seeing this note or the photograph. If great grandfather had not taken time to save the photo and write a few words about the contest this victory would have been forgotten two generations ago. I was fortunate to spend years of happy times with my grandma as I was growing up. My grandma lived to be 87 years old but has been gone for many years now. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read about this contest. I can’t explain it but all these years later I felt my heart swell with pride for my grandma when I saw this short account of her triumph in the corn. I am pleased to have this little glimpse into my grandma’s past. I can almost picture my energetic grandma as a young lady choosing her seed, preparing the ground and growing the best corn crop in the state of New York.

 

Way to go Grandma!

 

Contributed by Marge McCoy

 

 

 

a primitive mountain farmer’s song

(A tribute to Manoy Senio, Nulfo and Benjamin and Man Beto, mountain farmers of Danao who showed us the way to live in harmony with nature.)


There are few of us left
In this modern world
We are an anachronism
Left untouched and unhampered by civilization

On the far mountain lies our small shanty
Where dwelt my father and my mother before me
Where wild flowers beckon and fresh water from mountain springs
Glitters under the sun

Sturdy crops begging less from the soil and rain
Abound our hillside farm carved by my father in his youth
And free-roaming goats and chicken
Walk with abandon on our sloping yard

By the wisdom of our ancestors we learn
To commune with the Lord; to give thanks,
For the green crops in the field
And healthy animals grazing on the grass

Our day is special when we trek down
From our shanty, to the town by the sea
To savor the luxury of breakfast at the town market
And barter our farm crops with catch from the sea

Our strong limbs carry us down
From our high shanty to the town by the sea
And bring us up on hard climbs
Back to our high shanty

We are an anachronism of the generation
As we still wait in eager anticipation
The noisy serenades at dusk and wake-up calls at dawn
By the birds of freedom aloft tall trees or floating on gentle winds

By Regino Gonzales, Jr.

Visit Regino’s webpage at:

http://www.authorsden.com/reginojr/gonzales

 

earth gifts

EARTH GIFTS

Jackie woke up early, pulled on his blue jeans and his sneakers, and set out before it was light. The sloshing of his feet on the leaf-scattered earth harmonized with the squeaky wheeled wagon, which followed like a cheerful red shadow as he walked. He strode past the pond, not stopping to skip stones. Not today. He set his shoulders instead toward the winding path that led to his pumpkin patch. Today, Jackie had a mission.

He kicked a tin can as he walked, all the while feeling as though he’d burst with his secret. He passed a row of cattails and couldn’t resist plucking on from the earth. He beat its head against a fence rail and blew on it, filling the autumn air with its snow. He pulled out his jackknife and cut a few for later. Then, remembering what day it was, he set them in the wagon and continued on.

Jackie’s mother was the brightest star in his heaven, the only star, since his dad died the year before. Today was mother’s birthday and he wanted to get her something special. A diamond necklace, maybe, or a sparkling silver bracelet.

The path dipped and rolled before him, into a valley and through a grove of pines. Jackie pulled his wagon up short at the edge of his pumpkin patch, smiling as his secret swelled inside him. He counted ten good-sized pumpkins, and at least a half dozen smaller ones. As he began to calculate, a frown chased away his smile. How much did a diamond necklace cost, he wondered?

He pulled out his knife, and as solemn as a surgeon,  severed the pumpkins from their stems. He laid them gently in the wagon, careful to place the smaller ones on top. He stripped off his sweatshirt as he worked, a small, bent figure beneath a sailor blue sky. Around him, the trees echoed birdsong and wind hush, softly weeping lemon, red and orange…

When he’d placed the last pumpkin into his wagon, he sat on a fallen tree to rest. He collected handfuls of pinecones and laid them in the wagon, filled his tin can with acorns; little happy-faced men in brown berets he’d use for throwing practice later. He glanced up and saw a shiny red kite tail in the top of the tall oak tree. He shimmied to the top, cut it free, and laid it in the wagon.

He trudged to the end of the road, and finding the perfect spot, began to set up shop. He arranged the smallest pumpkins near the front, filling in the gaps with bunches of Black Eyed Susans that grew by the side of the road. Finally satisfied, he took out his marking pen and drew up a sign: PUMPKINS TWO FOR $1.00

He sat out the afternoon, chin in hands, until the sun began to cast long shadows across the road. His heart leapt and fell as an occasional car approached, slowed, and rumbled on. He sat until he knew it was very late, then pulled his wagon, as heavy as his heart, toward home.

By the time he reached their small farm, the red ribbon was trailing, bedraggled, in the dirt behind the wagon. He pulled it free, threw it on top of his lead, and went inside to lay the table for supper. He’d just set out the plates, when he heard mother’s car in the driveway. He turned from her when she entered the house, too ashamed to meet her eyes.

“Hello, Jackie.” She pulled him close. In the waning daylight, he thought he saw tears gathering in her eyes. “Thank you for the presents,” she said softly.

He nodded, feeling flags of shame spread across his cheeks.

When they’d finished their meal, Jackie went outside to gather kindling. He worked quickly as night fell, spooky, black as cats, around him.

Back inside, the house was cozy with firelights. The pinecones and acorns he’d gathered crackled and popped from the hearth, putting a good, woodsy scent in the air. He found mother in the kitchen, pulling a tray of roasted pumpkinseeds from the oven. She smiled when she saw him in the doorway.

“A special treat,” she said.

He ate them, one at a time, savoring each salty drop. Mother pointed to a bowl filled with orange pulp. “Tomorrow we’ll have pie.”

Jackie stared at his shoes. “I wanted to get you something nicer,” he said.

“Why, these are wonderful gifts, Jackie. Gifts from the earth. From the heart. The best kind of gifts in the world.” She held out her arms, and though he was a big boy now, nearly ten, he climbed into her lap and snuggled close. Over mother’s shoulder he saw cattails and Black Eyed Susans arranged in his tin can on the hearth. They danced in the shadows of the room. Glinting like diamonds in the firelight.

Photo by Elizabeth Pike

Story © M. Jean Pike 2001

*This story first appeared in the Fall, 2001 edition of Folklore! Magazine.

church day

I was glad when they said unto me; let us go into the house of the Lord. Psalm 122:1

It had been an especially busy week that added many additional tasks to my Saturday to-do list. In order to keep Sunday somewhat of a day of rest I decided to stay up later than normal Saturday night to try to get it all done. As my head hit the pillow that night I looked forward to sleeping in just a little bit the next day. However the happy thought that lead me off to dream land was not to be reality. About 6:30 am my son came marching enthusiastically into my room, tapped me on the shoulder and pulled back my covers. Wide awake, with a huge grin on his face he said in a very loud voice, “It’s Church Day.” He was so eager to get up and go. At that moment I did not share his enthusiasm. My first thought as I peeked at the clock was not “WooHoo, Church Day.” It was more like “Uggg, It’s my day to sleep in.” There were still four hours until church. Sunday school didn’t even start for another three hours. I was not getting up this early. I sleepily got out of bed and stumbled to the living room. I turned the TV to cartoons to try and distract him so I could get just a little more sleep. That lasted about ten minutes. The next thing I knew, he was back by my bed, dress shirt in hand, still grinning, still very loud saying, “Pretty church shirt.” He was making his preparations. I remember saying something like, “Yes, it is a pretty church shirt but it’s too early to get dressed. Mommy needs to wake up first. Go play for a little bit.” He obediently left the room only to come back a few moments later saying in his most cheerful voice, “Make the coffee Mama. It’s Church Day”. He knows once I make my coffee I don’t lie back down. He was nudging me along trying to get me excited too. It was no use. It was clear I was not going to get anymore sleep. I might as well get up and get ready for Church Day. After my coffee I would help my son get ready for church. As I sipped my coffee I thought about how special this little episode was. His first thought when he woke up was that it was Church Day. He knew this was Sunday and he was eager to go to church. Not only that, he wanted to share his excitement with me. As I helped him button his shirt later that morning I thought of all the people who don’t have a church to go to on Church Day. I thought of all the people that have no excitement for Church Day. I thought of those who reluctantly go each week just to please a parent or a spouse. I am proud of my son and his happy attitude. I’m glad he was looking forward to Church Day. I’m glad he shared his excitement with me. I think he made God smile.

Dear Lord, We thank you for Church Day. You knew we would need a day like this to come together with other Christians to be still, to wait upon you, to be refreshed. We rejoice in the chance to tune out what bombards us all week and think upon you without distraction. Please teach us how to better keep this day. Help those without a church home. Guide them to a church family. Restore joy to those who have lost their enthusiasm in attending your services. We are busy people Lord. Help us to be eager to get up and go. Help us as we make our preparations. Help us to be bold enough to nudge others along so they may be excited too. Please lead and bless us all the way.
Amen.

Devotional and photo by Marge McCoy