Love Through Me, Love of God

Love through me, Love of God;
There is no love in me.
O Fire of love, light Thou the love
That burns perpetually.

Flow through me, Peace of God;
Calm River, flow until
No wind can blow, no current stir
A ripple of self-will.

Shine through me, Joy of God;
Make me like Thy clear air
That Thou dost pour Thy colors through,
As though it were not there

O blessed Love of God,
That all may taste and see
How good Thou art, once more I pray:
Love through me—even me.

~ Amy Carmichael

It’s October!

img_1862

October’s Party
by George Cooper

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came.
The Chestnuts, Oaks and Maples,
And leaves of every name.

The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses maple
In scarlet looked their best.

All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

autumn-light

 

October’s the month
When the smallest breeze
Gives us a shower
Of autumn leaves.
Bonfires and pumpkins,
Leaves sailing down –
October is red
And golden and brown.

—Author Unknown

391883_autumn_colors.jpg

October leaves are lovely
They rustle when I run
Sometimes I make a heap
And jump in them for fun.

— Author Unknown

(I usually try to give credit for where the pictures I use come from, and I try to limit them to free sites. Most of these have been in my files for a long time and I am not sure where they originated, except that the top one was made with the Word Swag app.)

 

Save

Across the Will of Nature

img_1852

Across the will of Nature
Leads on the path of God;
Not where the flesh delighteth
The feet of Jesus trod.
O bliss to leave behind us
The fetters of the slave,
to leave ourselves behind us,
the graveclothes and the grave.

~ by Gerhard Tersteegen

The first two lines of this poem have been coming to mind often the last few days, so I had to look them up. It’s the first stanza of a poem which Amy Carmichael found inspirational. I had thought it was one of Amy’s, but I probably just first came across it in her biography.

There was a little ditty going around when my kids were teens: “Just two choices on the shelf: pleasing God or pleasing self.” One of my sons just hated that because it made it sound like any personal choice, from liking meatloaf to walks on an autumn day, were directly opposed to God. That’s one problem with reducing doctrine to a catchy phrase.

On the other hand, it is true that we have an old nature that above all else wants its own way, and often that runs contrary to what God wants or what other people want. That’s been my problem this week (well, really, my whole life. Some years ago I did a Bible study on wanting our own way – it was quite eye-opening). There are duties in my life that I really wish I did not have to deal with, but as they are squarely in my path, placed there, I am sure, by God, they’re mine to do. I wrestle with this often, and know there is nothing to do but do them and pray for a better attitude. I wish I could once for all work this out in my thinking and have the “don’t want to” go away forever. But it doesn’t work like that.

I’m sure that’s one reason Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

I’m immeasurably thankful that, though “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way,” God, in His love and patience, did not leave us there. Instead, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…1 Corinthians 13:4-5

See also:

The Captain of My Fate
Wanting Our Own Way

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday)

Save

Save

Save

Book Review: Beyond Stateliest Marble

I first “discovered” Puritan poetess Anne Bradstreet in a college American Literature class, and loved her work. I focused on her for one of my 31 Days of Inspirational Biography series a couple of years ago. So when I heard there was a good biography of her life, I put it on my Christmas “wish list.”

Beyond Stateliest MarbleI finally got to it this past month: Beyond Stateliest Marble: The Passionate Femininity of Anne Bradstreet by Douglas Wilson. The title comes from a quote by Cotton Mather, leading preacher of the day, saying that Anne’s poetry provided a “monument for her memory beyond the stateliest marbles.”

In all honesty, I spent the first 3/4 or so of this book being aggravated at it for what it lacked as a biography. It took that long for me to realize it’s not really a biography. Wilson says near the end it’s a tribute to her. It’s part of a “Leaders in Action” series, so it’s presenting that aspect of her. And the great bulk of it is a treatise. So once I realized and acknowledged those things, I was able to relax and take it for what it was.

One of Wilson’s biggest purposes in writing the book (what I called his treatise) is to defend against two erroneous suppositions: that the Puritans were dour, repressed, cheerless, unimaginative, legalistic people as a whole, and, 2) that Anne was anything but a thoroughgoing Puritan. Many modern treatments of Anne will portray her as a closet feminist, or an anomaly, or as having written such bright poetry in spite of her setting and position as a wife and mother rather than her Puritans beliefs, community, and calling as a wife and mother being the springboard from which she wrote. I do believe these misunderstandings at best, or false accusations at worst, do need to be shown as mistaken and wrong, and this book does a very good job of that.

The book is divided into three parts: her life, her character, and her legacy. The chapters are generally thematic rather than linear. We do get some of Anne’s background in the first section: the kind of family she grew up in, the times and setting, her marriage to Simon Bradstreet, their decision to sail from England to America, the voyage, the adjustments for a cultured woman in a non-settled area, her children, and her writing. She had no intentions of publishing her work, but her brother-in-law took copies of her poems and had them published in 1650 in England under the title The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America (or, to be exact: The Tenth Muse, lately Sprung up in America, or Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, Full of Delight, Wherein especially is Contained a Complete Discourse and Description of the Four Elements, Constitutions, Ages of Man, Seasons of the Year, together with an exact Epitome of the Four Monarchies, viz., The Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, Roman, Also a Dialogue between Old England and New, concerning the late troubles. With divers other pleasand and serious Poems, By a Gentlewoman in those parts.)

It was well-received, to say the least, and her poetry has been well-read ever since.

The second section deals with about 30 different character traits (each chapter focusing on one and only about three pages) with Wilson illustrating those traits in Anne’s life either through her poetry or others’ comments about her. And the last section contains four chapters dealing with her legacy.

Though I appreciated what I learned about Anne in this book, overall I felt it contained too much of Wilson and not enough of Anne. I know that “show, don’t tell” is a mantra of fiction rather than non-fiction, but I felt Wilson spent too much space telling his opinions about Anne and what he thought was right and wrong and not enough of showing her through her own writings. I also didn’t like his tone, which I felt was condescending towards those he disagreed with. He faults others for the broad brush strokes with which they portray the Puritans, but then he does the same towards other groups. But most of the reviews I perused on Goodreads voiced high praise for this book, so don’t take my word for what I consider its problems. Maybe our personalities just don’t mesh: in his chapter on humor, I didn’t think anything he brought up as an example of humor was remotely funny (for instance, he says that when Christ brought up to the woman at the well in John 4 that she’d had five husbands and the man she currently had was not her husband, that he was teasing her [p. 163]. I don’t think Jesus would tease people about their sin, and she certainly didn’t seem to take it as a joke.)

However, I do agree with him that Anne is a worthy subject, and that the Puritans were not what people think of them today, and that Anne was content as a wife and mother within a conservative Christian setting and wrote from that setting contentedly, not rebelliously.

One quote of Anne’s that stood out to me was in reference to her children: “Diverse children have their different natures; some are like flesh which nothing but salt will keep from putrefaction, some again like tender fruits that are best preserved with sugar…Those parents are wise that can fit their nurture according to their nature.”

Though some of her poetry’s subjects include theology and even the Queen, my favorites are the ones dealing with her walk with God, and her home, and family. I’ll close with my favorite two:

By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow’d his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

My hungry Soul he fill’d with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.

What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I’ll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Loue him to Eternity.

___

To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.

(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

Just to Leave in His Dear Hand

I was looking for this poem to share with a friend a few days ago, and I had thought it was on my blog somewhere. I couldn’t find it, so I thought it was high time to add it here. I originally saw the last stanza somewhere, and it wasn’t until looking it up online that I discovered it was part of a longer poem (it might possibly be a hymn, but I’ve never heard it set to music). It’s still the first line of the last stanza that comes to me most often.

I’ve seen this under the titles “How to Trust” and “The Secret of a Happy Day.” I don’t know which was the original, but they both work.

JUST to let Thy Father do what He will;
Just to know that He is true, and be still.
Just to follow, hour by hour, as He leadeth;
Just to draw the moment’s power, as it needeth.
Just to trust Him, this is all. Then the day will surely be
Peaceful, whatso’er befall, bright and blessed, calm and free.

Just to let Him speak to thee, through His Word,
Watching, that His voice may be clearly heard.
Just to tell Him everything, as it rises,
And at once to bring to Him all surprises.
Just to listen, and to stay where you cannot miss His voice,
This is all! and thus today, you, communing, shall rejoice.

Just to trust, and yet to ask guidance still;
Take the training or the task, as He will.
Just to take the loss or gain, as He sends it;
Just to take the joy or pain as He lends it.
He who formed thee for His praise will not miss the gracious aim;
So today, and all thy days, shall be moulded for the same.

Just to leave in His dear hand little things;
All we cannot understand, all the stings.
Just to let Him take the care sorely pressing;
Finding all we let Him bear changed to blessing.
This is all! and yet the way marked by Him who loves thee best:
Secret of a happy day, secret of His promised rest.

– Frances Ridley Havergal

At the Close of the Year

dec-31-calendar

Excerpts from “At the Close of the Year”

 ~ by John Newton

 Let hearts and tongues unite,
And loud thanksgivings raise:
‘Tis duty, mingled with delight,
To sing the Saviour’s praise.

 In childhood and in youth,
His eye was on us still:
Though strangers to his love and truth,
And prone to cross his will.

 And since his name we knew,
How gracious has he been:
What dangers has he led us through,
What mercies have we seen!

 Now through another year,
Supported by his care,
We raise our Ebenezer here,
“The Lord has help’d thus far.”

 Our lot in future years
We cannot now foresee,
He kindly, to prevent our fears,
Says, “Leave it all to me.”

 Yea, Lord, we wish to cast
Our cares upon thy breast!
Help us to praise thee for the past,
And trust thee for the rest.

 

31 Days of Inspirational Biography: Anne Bradstreet, Puritan Poetess

 Anne Bradstreet has been one of my favorite poets since I first “discovered” her in my college sophomore American literature class. She and her husband and her parents emigrated from England to America in 1630 with other Puritans. Her heart and spirit that shines through her poems refute the premise that the Puritans were dour and humorless. She was one of America’s first poets and the first women to have a book published in the United States. She hadn’t sought publication herself, but her brother-in-law collected some of her poems to have them published under the title The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, By a Gentlewoman of Those Parts. Feminists like to claim that she was an early feminist, since poetry writing and publishing was outside the norm in that time, especially for Puritan women, but the content of her poems would contradict feminist leanings.

Probably one of her most well-known and favorite poems is To My Dear and Loving Husband, which begins with the lines, “If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee.” Another of my favorites is The Author To Her Book, which begins, “Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain…”  By Night While Others Soundly Slept touched my heart with her seeking communion with her Lord late at night:

By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow’d his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

My hungry Soul he fill’d with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.

What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I’ll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Loue him to Eternity.

A few years ago my friend Bet pointed me to one of Anne’s poems with which I was not familiar, Verses Upon the Burning of Our House. The title clearly states the subject. The first lines describe the surprise and fear of finding her home in flames with earnest prayer for the Lord’s comfort. Job-like, “I blest his grace that gave and took,” and she acknowledges God’s ownership of all she has and His right to do with it as He will.

Yet she begins to grieve for the special, precious things lost, the particular familiar and treasured bits of a woman’s nesting instinct.

My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
And here and there the places spy
Where oft I sate and long did lie.
Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest,
There lay that store I counted best,
My pleasant things in ashes lie
And them behold no more shall I.

Then she reminds herself of the impermanence of treasures here on earth and “sets her affection of things above“:

Then straight I ‘gin my heart to chide:
And did thy wealth on earth abide,
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
That dunghill mists away may fly.
Thou hast a house on high erect
Fram’d by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished
Stands permanent, though this be fled.
It’s purchased and paid for too
By him who hath enough to do.
A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet by his gift is made thine own.
There’s wealth enough; I need no more.
Farewell, my pelf; farewell, my store.
The world no longer let me love;
My hope and Treasure lies above.

Often as I have read older stories and biographies I’ve been struck by how closely they lived with loss. We have fires, floods, and such now, too, of course, but such catastrophes happen much less often now due to safety factors implemented as a result of previous disasters. Yet even though materials things may last longer now, they still won’t last forever, and our treasures are best laid up in heaven.

A lot of modern online biographical sketches of Anne’s work tend to view her through a modern, biased lens rather than taking her work at face value and in context. Some see her as rebelling against her community and religious restrictions, but she was truly using her artistic gifts to express her faith rather than to rebel against it. One recent article I saw described her as ambivalent about her faith. I had never seen any ambivalence in her poems that I had read. I sent one such link to my friend Ann, who teaches about Anne in her high school English classes and knows much more about her than I do, and asked about the perspective. One of the poems quoted as “proof” in the article in question has this section:

Then higher on the glistering Sun I gaz’d
Whose beams was shaded by the leavie Tree,
The more I look’d, the more I grew amaz’d
And softly said, what glory’s like to thee?
Soul of this world, this Universes Eye,
No wonder, some made thee a Deity:
Had I not better known, (alas) the same had I.

Ann comments, “She’s saying that nature is so beautiful that she could be like others who do worship nature, if she didn’t know better. The fact that Cotton Mather praised her says volumes, as he was a leading Puritan preacher. I think Anne Bradstreet was a strong Christian and the author of this article is trying to weaken that testimony to fit her own purposes.  Yes, that’s from my own biases – but believe the evidence of her life and writings fits that model better.” Ann also recommends Beyond Stateliest Marble: The Passionate Femininity of Anne Bradstreet by Douglas Wilson, which I had not heard of before but have put on my wish list.

I’m thankful and inspired that Anne used her poetry to reflect not only her love of home and family but of her God.

photo 3(2)

For the 31 Days writing challenge, I am sharing 31 Days of Inspirational Biography. You can find others in the series here.