Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ready For Lent!

Updated from the Archives....

As Elizabeth and I plan to make pancakes (gluten-free and grain-free varieties this year) for dinner this Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Tuesday as it's known in our household), I'm also preparing myself spiritually for the beginning of Lent.

Tomorrow morning I'll attend the Ash Wednesday Imposition of Ashes with the kind folks of Blessed Trinity Anglican as we meet together in Father Acker's home in Alpine. (Message me if you'd like to come, and I'll give you the directions. It's mind-blowing and soul-blowing ancient worship!)

I have my Lenten fast decided and my Lenten additions ready. I don't usually tell either one publicly--only my family knows so that they can help keep me accountable.

A few years ago, I had continued all year with the previous Lent's addition of The One Year Book of Hymns to my Compline prayer time before bed each night, last night's hymn struck me, and I want to share it here as well as copy it into my Common Place Book (quotation journal) as it expresses many of the reasons why Lent is my favorite time of year:

Lenten Hymn
by Claudia Frances Hernaman (1838-1898)

Lord, who through these forty days
For us did fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins,
And close by Thee to stay.

As Thou with Satan didst contend
And didst the victory win,
O give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.

As Thou didst hunger bear and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy Passiontide,
Yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesus! with us abide.

Abide with us, that so this life
Of suffering overpast,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last!

The Scripture verses accompanying this hymn in this devotional is Mark 1:11-12 from The Living Bible: 

"Immediately the Holy Spirit urged Jesus into the desert. There, for forty days, alone except for desert animals, he was subjected to Satan's temptations to sin. And afterwards the angels came and cared for him." 

So Lent consists of the forty days before the Resurrection, not including Sundays (which are always a celebration of the Resurrection) and thus Lent parallels the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness before starting his earthly ministry.

Lent prepares our hearts for the joy of Easter--the celebration of the Resurrection of our Living and Loving Lord. How can we truly celebrate without suffering just a little first? Through fasting and prayer, we draw closer to the heart of the One who loved us first.

Can we fast and pray at any time? Sure. But do we? Not enough--or at least, I know that I don't fast and pray enough. Lent reminds me to do so, to allow the Holy Spirit into the dark corners of my soul and do a spiritual "spring cleaning," showing me my sin so that I may confess it and be cleansed.

To read more about Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and Lent you may read my post On Lent using this hyperlink or by going to the "On Lent" page beneath my blog header.

I wish you all a Holy and Blessed Lent as we all draw closer to our Lord and King!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Own Green Thoughts

Daffodils in my front garden a few years ago....

This morning I read Melissa Wiley's lovely blog Here in the Bonny Glen in which she wrote about her gardening adventures in a post called "Green Thoughts." Since she, a well-known author of children's books (and now a Brave Writer instructor!), also lives in San Diego, I felt a true affinity for her post and all of the lovely green things--even "weeds"--that her family has grown. I meant to write just a short reply to her post, but it soon took on a life of its own. Yep, I ended up writing a blog post in reply to her blog post! (Sorry, Melissa!)

So here it is...which some additional "green thoughts":

I've found that San Diego is a pretty forgiving place for gardening. I loved gardening when we lived in North Park; our century-old Craftsman had enough Victorian to it that it was a stand-out on the block naturally, and the family who had own the home before us (from 1945-1991 when we bought it) had planted calla lilies beneath the porch railing. Oh, when they bloomed, honey, they BLOOMED.

And, as I said, I found that I could pretty much ignore all of the gardening "rules," and everything turned out beautifully...most of the time, anyway. I could never get Canterbury Bells to grow...which I loved for the name even more than the flowers themselves. (Does anyone else do that? Choose seed packets or even six-packs of blooms based more on the name of the plant than the plant itself? No? I must the the weird one, then....)

I sowed wildflower seeds on either side of the front walk and ended up with a host of pincushions, cornflowers, Queen Anne's lace, and other English garden-y things. As much as I wanted to try foxgloves, I had little ones back then and wasn't going to chance it. Along the east-facing long side of the house I had hollyhocks (which my husband has always called "hockeypucks") growing so high that they were curling under the eaves--and that's with a significant stone foundation and then the house itself! They were close to fifteen feet! Amongst the "hockeypucks" I had six different kinds of lavender, plus rosemary and other herbs galore (and sunflowers that grew almost as high as the "hockeypucks"!). My husband put in a brick-lined rose garden for me along the backside of the fence separating the back and front yards, and roses of all colors held riots there. Gardening was definitely my "thing."

Our old house, repainted by new owners. We left it gray with white and burgundy trim....

And the kids reveled in the spring clover's "sour grass"; we'd let the lawn keep growing until we were losing toddlers in the vast greenness, and then the kids gathered up armloads of the beautiful bright yellow flowers on their long, juicy stems--the very definition of "cheerfulness." Unfortunately, they never kept long, of course, but I had bouquets of them, overflowing the jam jars as they lined my kitchen counter before the lawn mower heartlessly took 'em down. We had to watch Monty Python & the Holy Grail to calm our nerves and get us laughing again.

But up here in Pine Valley, I must choose what to plant carefully, with an eagle eye for frost-hardiness. We've had frosts as late as June 12th (our middle son's birthday--which also killed our Pippin crop that year!) and as early as the end of September, so the delicate blooms I adored in the city either need more time than I can afford them between frosts or will wilt in our summer heat (sometimes above 110!). Fortunately, two of my favorite old-fashioned flowers, pansies and stocks, are quite frost-hardy, and rosemary abounds. Lavender is a bit touchy--no Spanish lavender here--but the French and English varieties do fairly well. But with the arrival of my autoimmune challenges, I haven't had the strength to garden much, plus, we now have half an acre vs. our little city plot, so the sheer size of it is daunting.

Our mountain home since 2001

This spring I do want to plant more. The daffodils (still blooming after the 15 years we've been here and who knows how much longer before that!) are sprouting, and the purple irises will follow. I've done tulips in the past, too. Now that middle son has worked landscaping, we're going to sit down and plan out our spring plantings and see what we can rescue and what we'll need to replace and what we can add. ;)

And yes, there are a few "hockeypucks" lurking along the back fence, a true homecoming for me when we first moved in and still stubbornly self-sowing. And a few old rose bushes, half-wild now, that need some TLC. But I really want to get out there and make something beautiful in our garden this year.

As I pondered my garden today, I remembered a lovely quotation from L.M. Montgomery's sixth book in the Anne series, Anne of Ingleside:

One gold-grey smoky afternoon [Anne] and Jem planted all the tulip bulbs....
"Isn't it nice to be preparing for spring when you know you've got to face winter, Jem?"
"And it's nice to be making the garden beautiful," said Jem. "Susan says it is God who makes everything beautiful but we can help Him out a bit, can't we, Mums?"
"Always . . . always, Jem. He shares that privilege with us."

So, thanks be to God for the privilege of sharing a bit in His Creation as we plot and plant the bounty of His Beauty!!

Counting on the daffodils,

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Anna and Simeon seeing Jesus and His parents in the Temple
Updated from the Archives...

Yesterday I attended Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity, and as it was the day after Candlemas, otherwise known as The Presentation of Christ in the Temple OR The Purification of Mary--all of which are celebrated on February 2 (yep, the same day as Groundhog Day), we celebrated Candlemas during our weekly Healing Service. 

But what is Candlemas exactly?

The site ChurchYear.net defines Candlemas as "The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, traditionally called Candlemas, commemorates the presentation of Christ in the temple, and the ritual purification of the Virgin Mary. The feast falls on February 2nd." 

Basically, Candlemas marks forty days after Christ's birth when Mary went to the Temple to be purified after giving birth to her firstborn. We read about this day in the Second Chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke (verses 22-39) which was one of our Scripture readings yesterday in the English Standard Version (ESV):

Jesus Presented at the Temple

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

Here's a wonderful explanation of the Holy Day of Candlemas from Project Britain: Candlemas Day.

Pope John Paul II gave this wisdom in one of his homilies: 

"Be light and comfort to everyone you meet. Like lighted candles, burn with the love of Christ. Spend yourselves for him, spreading the Gospel of his love everywhere. Through your witness the eyes of many men and women of our time will also be able to see the salvation prepared by God 'in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.'" 

And here is the Collect for The Presentation of Christ in the Temple from The Book of Common Prayer 2011:

ALMIGHTY and ever-living God, we ask that, as your eternal Son was presented in the temple, we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; Who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (References: Luke 2.23-30; Galatians 4.4; Psalm 24.3-4; Revelation 1.6)

So have a wonderful 5th Week After Epiphany as we approach the pre-Lenten season!

Soli Deo Gloria,


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