Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Night

On Christmas night all Christians sing, to hear the news the angels bring,
On Christmas night all Christians sing, to hear the news the angels bring,
News of great joy, news of great mirth, News of our merciful King's birth.

All out of darkness we have light, which made the angels sing this night,
All out of darkness we have light, which made the angels sing this night,
Glory to God and peace to men, Now and forevermore.  Amen.
~Sussex Carol
Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice!
Now ye need not fear the grace:  Peace!  Peace!  Jesus Christ was born to save;
He hath opened heaven's door, and man is blessed forevermore.
Christ was born to save.  Christ was born to save.

The Love of God

"The whole life of Christ was a continual passion; others die martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr.  He found a Golgotha even in Bethlehem; for, to his tenderness then, the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after; and the manger as uneasy at first, as his cross at last.  His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and morning of one and the same day."   ~ John Donne, from a sermon preached at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on Christmas Day, 1626
For Christ came once to die that we might live with Him eternally (Hebrews 9), so "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."  1 John 4: 7, 9-10 

A most blessed and tender Merry Christmas from all of us at High Meadow Farm.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

"And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around the, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."  
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"
When the angel went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told. them."  Luke 2:8-20 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

'Tis the Season

"Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.
'Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!"
"The holly and the ivy, when they are both fully grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.

The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our Savior.

The holly bears a berry as red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a prickly as sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.
For all these reasons we decked not halls, but a tiny casket this Christmastime.  Holly is the male representation of triumph, and ivy the female representation.  The holly berries stand for the blood of Christ.  We used these visible symbols to remind us that in Christ Jesus, by His blood that redeems us, our little Beau - and we - stand triumphant over death.  It has no power over us, but has simply become the servant who bears us to the Father.  It's spectral presence has been defeated.The lovely little mistletoe was mixed in with holly and ivy, too.  It's small white berry pictures purity for us, and, of course, it brings to mind its tradition of kissing.  For these reasons we used the mistletoe, because in life we covered Beau with constant kisses, and in death we covered his grave with kisses as well.
"The holly and the ivy when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood the holly bears the crown.
O the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ sweet singing in the choir."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why We Can Rejoice

There have been many beautiful paintings of the Madonna and Child, and this one by Giovanni Bellini (circa 1459) is particularly meaningful.  I wish the brilliant colors that Giovanni used showed up better in this print, but they don't.  What does show clearly, however, is the raven perched upon the hand of the Christ Child to signify that the child came to die.  

"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."  Matthew 1:21
"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..."  1 Timothy 1:15 

Because of this we have hope though yet we grieve.  Christmas came that there might be Easter that there might be new life eternal.

"To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever."  Amen."  1 Timothy 1:17

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Can It Be Christmas?

Christmas carols, twinkling lights, television specials, advertising that promises magical joys.  Crowded stores, Christmas tree lots, baking, and planning surprises.  All these things and more abound.  Can it really be Christmas?  It doesn't feel like it.  None of the usual delight and excitement is anywhere on the horizon at our home.  Life and death came in the same lovely bundle for us.  A precious baby suffered and died.  Can it possibly be Christmas?

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her king."

Life and death also arrived in a lovely bundle 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.  Jesus was born to suffer and die.  He would be pierced for our sins. The old prophet Simeon told Mary that her soul would be pierced by a sword.  Love has it's cost.

"Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!  Let men their songs employ."

Christianity is the Great Paradox.  Christ came to die and rise again in order that we might live eternally.  Death for life.  Suffering for healing.  Because He triumphed over death, we can say, "O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?"  (I.Cor.15:55)

"No more let sins or sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground.  He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found."

"And He who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'  Also He said, 'Write this down, for these sayings are trustworthy and true." (Rev.21:5)  We can look with confidence for the day when there will be no more sorrows nor thorns of life, for He will wipe away our tears and erase the curse.  

"He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of His love."

"The wonders of His love."  He gives comfort to the mourning, peace to the troubled, healing to the wounded.  Today He gives those things to His children, and not at some later pie-in-the-sky day.  Today the Gospel is true.  

Yes, it can be Christmas, because the Gospel is true.

Friday, December 5, 2008

In The Valley

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for though art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."  Psalm 23:4

Formerly, I never got past the first part of that passage in Psalms - the Valley of the Shadow of Death - and wondered what it must be like.  The ideas that took root in my mind were images of darkness, terror, fear, abandonment.  But, now I have seen the rest of the passage.
A shepherd's rod and staff keep the fearful sheep on the right path so that they don't stray into danger.  I have found this to be true, and it is indeed a comfort.  And what was so remarkable in that awful Valley, was the fact that it was not at all dark.  Instead it was light and precious and holy, for the light of the Lord Himself illumined that darkness, and we were not afraid.  We were comforted."... grief is not a force and has no power to hold.  You only bear it.  Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery."
"I was yet grateful.  Sometimes I was grateful because I knew I ought to be, sometimes because I wanted to be, and sometimes a sweet thankfulness came to me on it's own, like a singing from somewhere out in the dark.  I was grateful because I knew, even in my fear and grief, that my life had been filled with gifts."  ~ Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry.                       

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mourning Glory

"Mourning Glory"
   by Linda Scherrer
Rare and precious flower,
    Early budded in our lives,
          Most favored and desired

By the Father, gently plucked
     to bloom and grow
          in Paradise glory.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Through Another Year

All-sufficient King,
When I come into thy presence I see
   the glory of thy perfections,
   the throne of eternal and universal empire
   the ten thousand times ten thousand
      who minister to thee.
Impress my mind with the consciousness 
   of thy greatness,
   not to drive me from thee
   but to inspire me to approach thee;
   not to diminish my confidence in thee,
   but to lead me to admire thy great
Thou hast been mindful of me and visited me,
   taken charge of me from birth,
   cared in all conditions for me,
   fed me at thy table,
   drawn the curtains of love around me,
   given me new mercies every morning.
Suffer me not to forget that I look for yet
   greater blessings -
   a hope beyond the grave,
   the earnest and foretastes of immortality,
   holiness, wisdom, strength, peace, joy;
   all these thou hast provided for me in Christ.
I grieve to think how insensible I have been
   of the claims of thy authority,
   and the endearments of thy love;
   how little I have credited thy truth,
      trusted thy promises,
      feared thy threats,
      obeyed thy commands,
      improved my advantages,
      welcomed thy warnings,
      responded to thy grace;
   but notwithstanding my desert I yet live.
May thy goodness always lead me to repentance,
   and thy longsuffering prove my salvation.

~ Valley of Vision, Caring Love

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Ancient Doors

In earlier days, the triumphal procession of a king returning from war would be cause for great joy and celebration at the city gates.  The great gates would be flung open to admit their lord amidst unfettered rejoicing of the people, thankful for the return of their victorious king.

In Psalm 24:7-10, David writes of the ancient doors being lifted up to receive the King of Glory.  What are those gates, those ancient doors of which the Psalmist writes?  That question has been my meditation this day, and the understanding of this passage is a thing to search out.  There were the doors of the stable that welcomed the tiny King and the doors of the temple that welcomed Him for the first time when he was 8 days old.  The great gates of the temple welcomed Him many more times during His lifetime; at the age of 12 when He first went up for Passover, the many times He taught in the Temple, and His triumphal entry upon the back of a donkey's colt as he heard "Hosannas" ringing out.  Ancient doors.  Large, heavy, ancient doors.  Like the doors of my heart.  
Like the old doors of my heart, there were great gates and ancient doors that the Redeeming King and Mighty God broke through in order to redeem His people from the curse of sin and death.  And He did!  He broke through the gates of hell and defeated sin and death.  He defeated that old enemy, the devil, who had held mankind captive.  And then He led those captives free!  

There is coming yet another day when the final set of ancient doors will be flung open.  The sky will roll back like a scroll and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will return in triumph to the great joy and praise of all His Kingdom.  Till that day, may the doors of my heart, O Lord, never be closed to you.  May the King of Glory come!
"Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory!"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Virtue and Liberty

"A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy...  While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader...  If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved.  This will be their great security."   ~ Samuel Adams (1722-1803)

"Nations crumble from within when the citizenry asks of government those things which the citizenry might better provide for itself...  I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.  There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics:  As government expands, liberty contracts."  ~ Ronald Wilson Reagan   (1911-2004)

"Suspicious of welfare addiction, feeble justice and high taxes, totally committed to preserving it's own national sovereignty, unabashedly Christian in a world part secular and part muslim, suspicious of the Great Global Warming panic, it was unique.  These strengths have been fading for some time ... weakened by the failure of American's conservative party - the Republicans - to fight on the cultural and moral fronts.  They preferred to posture on the world stage.  And now the US, like Britain before it, has begun the long slow descent into the Third World .... Where now is our last best hope on earth?  ~ Peter Hitchens, Mail Online, UK

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Game Over For Today

"Politics is not an event but a process. We sometimes lose the events but it never gives us the right to stop being faithful to our principles that enlisted us in the process.  We shall live to fight another day."   - Mike Huckabee
William Wallace leads the Scots Against the English by J. Rogers

Monday, November 3, 2008

"...If My People..."

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  II Chronicles 7:13-14

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Golden Afternoon

Today was one of those dreamy, golden-warm autumn afternoons.  Please join me on a little photo-tour of the farm; first stop, the sun-illumined leaves of an elm:
Even poison ivy is beautiful this time of year, but still be careful of it!
Supplicant branches, reaching their arms heavenward.
Ladybug is enjoying the warm day.  Isn't she beautifully framed?
                   A close-up of Dogwood leaves and berries.  
A literal field of Dogwood berries - the birds will be feasting!
                       Sun-illumined Dogwood leaves.
                          Autumn symmetry.
                      Autumn green and gold.  
Mira in her winter coat.  "Do you have a treat for me?" she's asking.
                                         Peek-a-boo Pony.
Lance said 'cheese', but closed his eyes!
     The little line of Dogwoods by the drive.
Lance and Mira enjoying the day.  I hope you did, too.

Friday, October 31, 2008

How Did the Garden Grow?

Gardens are a lot like relationships.  They both have their joys and difficulties, labors and fruits.  Even as I planted my garden last spring, it occurred to me that it was the honeymoon stage of gardening;  all was fresh, new, budding, beautiful.  I blogged about that sweet beginning in "New Old Green".  Ah, youth!  Ah, Springtime!  For then comes summer... and heat, and insects, and blights, and weeds, and drought; and then we must really work.  
But, don't abandon the garden at this point; and neither should relationships be abandoned or ignored simply because the work is hard, for there's fruit to be won.  And the fruit is sweet!

From the outset, I considered my garden to be one big experiment, knowing that I knew but little!  Indeed, it has been an interesting laboratory, and there will be some things I will do the same, some I will do differently, and some I won't do at all! 
1.  Soil - that all important element.  The composted manure I bought for the raised beds wasn't composted nearly enough, and the young plants struggled through the summer to establish themselves because of the high level of nitrogen.  So, this fall I will be composting leaves and other dead plant matter into these beds to balance them out.  Interestingly, the one bed that had soil made up of an assortment of old dirt and manure that I had on hand did stunningly.  And it didn't cost a thing!  (Older, composted wisdom will bear much fruit.)
2.  Sunshine - My beds are in shadow during the very first part of the morning, therefore the squash, peppers, and tomatoes were late in season to bear.  Next spring, I'll put them in the parts of the beds where the sun appears earliest.  (Early meditation on the Light of God's Word is helpful to your growth.)
3.  Water - Rainbarrels are a great idea, but you have to have rain in order for them to work!  Since we had drought for much of the season, I had to use the diabolical sprinklers.  When will they EVER make a sprinkler that actually works for more than two weeks?  Next season, I will invest in soaker hoses for the beds - it's better for the plants anyway, and less wasteful.  (You cannot do without the washing of God's Word, so get it any way that you can.)
Veggie Conclusions:
1.  Pumpkins and melons take up way too much space.  I think I'l just buy those from now on.
2.  Lettuces are so easy to grow!  I've actually bought very little lettuce since the spring.  Buttercrunch was the best.
3.  Tomatoes - there is nothing more delicious than a garden fresh tomato!  The little yellow kind was so fun and sweet.
4.  Carrots - the little Nantes were good, and they grew all summer long.  The onions in my same root-bed didn't do much of anything.  Maybe the high nitrogen?
5.  Broccoli - easy to grow, but have BT on hand for those ruthless caterpillars.
6.  Spinach - almost as easy as the lettuce, but don't let it dry out at all.
7.  Peas - so much fun, but be ready for the aphids.  I went away for less than a week last May, and left the peas full of blooms and young pods, and came back to peas full of aphids.  I went after them with pepper-oil spray and burned most of the peas!  Lesson learned - don't overdo.
8.  Herbs - plant them anywhere and everywhere.  Don't be afraid to keep up a continual harvest of them.
9.  Berries - Blackberry bushes are much easier than Raspberry bushes.

I replanted broccoli, peas, spinach, and lettuce in September, but will do it in August next year.  The temperature wasn't the only thing to take into account, but the waning hours of sunlight were a factor I didn't anticipate.  So, though we've been enjoying lettuce for a few weeks, I'm wondering if the peas and broccoli - though doing nicely - will have enough time to bear before winter truly hits.  Hmm..... maybe a hoop-house?  

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Palin Probe

Whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent, if you've wondered about the situation involving Gov. Sarah Palin and the incriminating results of the Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee; and if you are interested at all in the truth of the matter, check out blogger Sola Gratius for a carefully thought-out, well-written analysis.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

True or False?

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."  Exodus 20:16
"You shall not spread a false report.  You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.  Keep far from a false charge..."  Exodus 23:1,7
"If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.  The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother."  

"A false balance is an abomination to the Lord..."  Proverbs 11:1  

               "... danger from false brothers;..."   2nd Corinthians 11:26
"A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape."  Proverbs  19:5
"Beware of false prophets. who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits."   Matthew 7:15-16"You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another."  Leviticus 19:11
"Through your precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way."  Psalms 119:104
"I hate every false way."  Psalms 119:128

Friday, September 26, 2008

One Down, Two to Go

After watching the first of three televised Presidential debates, my husband John, a USNA Alumnus, commented:  "The difference between McCain and Obama is that McCain had a Plebe year."  In other words, Sen. McCain has lived through his crucibles with the resulting seasoning of maturity, experience, and wisdom.  Though gifted and talented, Sen. Obama has yet to live through his crucibles, and I would really hate for that event to take place while he occupied the Oval Office.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sly Pony

Look what Hugo was out doing while I was away!


A hot autumn day with a cool, dry breeze is like a Sabbath afternoon:  full, content, warm, and drowsy.  Colder days are ahead, but we can rest and be satisfied for now.