Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.


The Year In Verse

Back: Mama and Melanie
Center: Susanna, Lauren, Mikaela
Front: Micah, Jonah, Papa
Taken on San Juan Island this summer

2011 was a year of much growth.
It began with February’s celebration:
Mom and Dad’s twenty-seventh anniversary,
Which they spent at the beach in great jubilation!

Our church family camp was a highlight of July.
We tented at Lake Loomis in both rain and shine,
Nonetheless, we laughed hard and played long in the night,
And learned of families and God’s perfect design.

Soon after, we took a road trip to Idaho
For Christmas in July with Papa’s family.
From alka seltzer and soda-swallowing games
To chatting, the day was full of festivity!

August brought adventure Susanna, fourteen, planned.
The Olympic Forest was our lush camping ground,
This time without any rain, so we made mem’ries
And hiked several ridges Susanna had found.

When poor Jonah endured over twenty bee stings
He won the badge of bravery for that long hike,
And he found the balmy bee-less Sol Duc hot springs
Much more hospitable with much much more to like!

We finished the trip with a lovely ferry ride
Debarking at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island.
We soaked up lavender farms, historical sights,
And the ocean’s beauty created by God’s hand.

In October, Melanie was the leader of
The kid’s program for a creation conference.
Painting lizards, creating huts, teaching lessons—
Helping was quite a wonderful experience.

This year found Papa travelling to Canada
Then for a week to North Carolina for work,
(Where he squeezed in touring Kitty Hawk and Roanoke)
He continues to lead as an elder at church.

Mama produced an amazing garden bounty,
And is Homemaker Extraordinairre for us all!
She and Melanie have been gluten free this year;
Their gluten-free baking is quite delectable!

Which will, Lord willing, once she heals up, do away
With pain she has been experiencing since June,
We are grateful if you would join with us and pray!

Mikaela and I travelled to Utah in June
With friend Sarah for violin teacher training
And since September have been enjoying taking
Charge of our three youngest siblings in homeschooling.

We still teach music and play in the symphony.
Blogging is another thing that we delight in.
We continue working on our college degree,
And, praise the Lord, we are both nearing completion!

Melanie graduated from high school in June,
And she has also obtained her driver’s permit.
A Bible and Science degree takes up her time,
But her love for piano she does not forget!

Anna excels at violin and piano,
And her schedule is filled with school, babysitting,
Helping mothers at church, passing me up in height
And thrilling us with culinary creating.

Micah is twelve, and he is industrious at
Beating me by a long shot when we go jogging,
Mastering the cello, getting smarter each day
And memorizing the book of Titus since spring.

This is Jonah’s final year in single digits;
He’s our encourager, making us laugh each day!
He plays the violin, herds our zoo of creatures,
And cuddles our three cute orange kitties in play.

It has been a satisfying and fruitful year,
Not all easy, but God’s grace has been sufficient,
And we pray that that grace will surround you and
Your Christmas and New Year will be magnificent!


A Traditional Christmas

We had a wonderful wet Christmas this year, and were so thankful that Mama was strong enough to enjoy it with us (albeit from the couch). As many of our friends and family struggled with physical problems this Christmas, some even facing the possibility of death, Lauren reminded me that this is what a "Merry Christmas" is all about--Jesus coming to earth as a Babe to save us from this curse of sin we are hopelessly entangled in. Sickness, pain, toil, and death are our lot because of our sin, but Jesus brought Light, love, hope, and Life to all who will accept it this Christmas season! We rejoice because of this blessed hope within us.

Left to Right: Melanie, Lauren, Susanna, Mikaela holding Micah, with Jonah underneath.

After our traditional candlelight Christmas Eve service at church, and energized by our traditional fondue meal, we posed in our traditional pose with the new pajamas we traditionally open on Christmas Eve. (Phew! Who knew there could be so many traditions in one night and in one sentence?) We always pick a different to carry in the picture.

"You won't drop me, right?" Micah asked, somewhat skeptical of the muscular power of his four sisters and little brother.

"Oh no, Micah--we would never drop you!"

After dreaming of sugar plums, we went to church on Christmas morn, where the final candle was lit on the Advent wreath, and the children of the church (below) shared a special rendition of "Who is He in Yonder Stall?" Papa preached the message that morning, expounding on the divinity of Christ, and God's revelation through Him. It was a wonderful time to redirect our focus once again to the point of all our Yuletide celebrations. 

When we got home, we opened presents. We siblings always draw names, and it's so much fun to brainstorm and give these special gifts. In the top left corner, Lauren and I pose with the dress I had just given Lauren. Top center, Susanna hugs a soundtrack Melanie had just given her. And in the bottom right corner, Micah shows off the Regency-era vest Lauren made for him (the use of which will be revealed in two weeks' time). Other highlights included the gorgeous tie Melanie made for Papa, the beautiful rings Mama and Papa gave to Lauren and I, the t-shirt bearing Jonah's absolute favorite soda (Orange Crush), the monkey slippers Jonah gave Mama, and the leather hat all the kids gave Papa. 

Lauren and I introduced a recipe we had tried only once before to the Christmas feast--roasted cauliflower. By the looks of the dish, everyone approved! It was very delicious, and I highly recommend it.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER with Garlic & Pine Nuts
Serves 10
2 heads garlic, separate into cloves but do not peel
4 large cauliflower, cut into florets (not too small)
12 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

After baking:
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper, to taste
12 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Bring a water to boil in small pan. Using a strainer, add unpeeled garlic cloves. Boil for 15 seconds. Drain and peel.
3. On rimmed cookie sheet, toss cauliflower with garlic cloves, olive oil, and black pepper. Bake until tender for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring twice. Spoon into bowl.4. Mix together: olive oil, parsley, kosher salt, black pepper, toasted pine nuts, and lemon juice. Toss with roasted cauliflower/garlic mixture.

Our Great Aunt Bev and a dear family from church joined us for Christmas dinner, and we supped on ham, cheesy potatoes, spinach cranberry salad, homemade foccacia bread, roasted cauliflower and tiramisu, almond cake, and Hershey peanut butter pie for dessert.  

It was such a blessing to be together with family and friends and to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. What special traditions do you have for Christmas? I'd love to know!


With Love From Your Great-Great-Great Grandmother

I hold in my hands a part of the past. A scrapbook, the tale of Elmira Meadows' life. One page brings uproarious laughter, but the next draws tears. There is a newspaper clipping from when Teddy Roosevelt was president (1901), a report of the casualties of the Spanish American war in 1898, obituaries from 1894, and, towards the end, something from 1929. Elmira passed this precious book down to her daughter, Edna, who passed it down to my Great Grandmother, Irene.

My treasure trove is not all black and white, as my Great-Great-Great Grandmother filled the pages with carefully cut Victorian flowers, emblems, and stamps. Above, the first page, gives instructions for a superior scrap-book paste made of cornstarch and water. "It is said to be the kind used by all daguerreotypists on gem pictures." The right page contains the announcement of Elmira's wedding to Mr. Jesse O. Meadows in Wallowa County, Oregon. It thrills me to imagine their quiet romance and the hard but sweet life they led!

Only the next page over, though, I feel her tears as obituaries tell first of her parents' deaths, and then of her beloved husband's. "He leaves a wife and five small children to mourn his loss" the obituary says. It also adds, "The family were unable to attend the funeral on account of being under quarantine for scarlet fever."
She still knew how to laugh however, as she carefully pasted in a column of small town news.
"Mr. Tracy Whittaker, of Pearisburg High School, came home to spend the holidays, but after wearing out several telephones in trying to talk to his best girl in Pearisburg, he decided that it was cheaper to stay in that place and returned several days ago.
"Mr. C.L. Eaton added much improvement to his already good looks by getting a new hair cut last week." This is attributed to "Tootsy Wootsy." (-:

Another clipping reflected on the things that have happened on Fridays. "Lee surrendered on Friday. Moscow was burned on Friday. Washington was born on Friday. Shakespeare was born on Friday. America was discovered on Friday. Lauren posts on her blog on Friday." (Whoops! How did that last one get in there?)

The pages are stiff, thick, and yellow. They report Mrs. Grover Cleveland's taste in dress, and the fact that the "whitest, worst looking hair, resumes its youthful beauty and softness by using Hall's Vegetable Sicilian Hair Renewer." A quote informs us that "a steel thimble is as good as a gold one for a girl who cannot darn her own stockings" while another article deviously lays out tricks to play on Grandpa.

One yellowed page informs about the reprehensible tradition of throwing rice at brides, and it speculates that the "next device will probably be a rice shower, arranged on the principles of stage rain." As I flipped through the pages, an article entitled "Being a Good Sister" caught my eye and my heart. It urges that "it takes brains, heart, conscience, womanhood, to be a good sister....There is no nobler missionary work on this planet than to give [your brother] at least a good sister. You can make no grander contribution to the world's treasure....Every time you add to your worthiness or independence, you add to the capital of the race and the quality of your future."

It is only a book, yes, but from it I learn of this woman who braved the rough life of the West over one hundred years ago. From the clippings she saved, I learn that she was a noble woman and a true follower of Christ.

I am favored with a glimpse into the life of this woman whom I would otherwise know nothing about, and I can't help but wonder if she looked into the future. I can't help but wonder if, as she rocked in front of her fire one cool night or helped her husband on their land one sunny day, she thought about her great-great-great grandchildren.
I do.

This is a reposted article from 2009.  Especially at this time of year, I love dwelling on and thanking God for the heritage of family He has given me.  I wish you all a Merry and Blessed Christmas!


Grandpa Grass

A favorite pastime of Grandpa Grass and mine was to peruse his many photo albums. Early on, he would hold the book robustly, lingering on each picture and soliloquizing about every detail in each picture. I would look at the sepia photograph of a handsome, vibrant young man in uniform with his beautiful young bride, and then I would look at the elderly man next to me—the very same man. Unless he was in bed, he was always impeccably dressed with manners to match: careful introductions, walking me to the door, and wanting to provide snacks or drinks. I could look at that picture of his younger self, attending university in Germany and forced to fight for the Nazis, and I recognized him in this ninety year-old man before me—still debonair and gentlemanly with clear blue eyes.

What an incredible man he was. I marvelled at the stories he would tell me—born in Argentina to German parents, moved to the United States in his childhood where he excelled musically and even got a chance to sing with the Metropolitan Opera when they traveled to Detroit. Even as a soldier, caught on the wrong side of the battle, he managed to make the best out of a terrible situation, marrying a girl he had first met in the US, and surviving the war with a wound to his leg that would plague him for the rest of his life. Eventually, he made it back to the US with his family, where he worked and raised his three children. In his retirement years, he and Grandma Grass travelled to an astounding number of places.

He began to curtail the stories to accompany the photos, however. The first time he told me of his mother, ironing in South America with an oil-powered iron (only to have it explode and burn her badly) it was a long, dramatic tale. But the second and third times it was reprised, the story was abridged. This year, at 91, he was in constant pain. He would look at Lauren and me with weariness in his crystal blue eyes and say, “Never, never get this old.”

He could still remember his German, Spanish, and English, and he always amended Lauren and my pronunciations of the great German composers when we played something for him. Eventually, the hands that held the photo albums grew weaker, so that I now turned the pages while he remembered the stories about his two sisters, gone before him, his wife gone to heaven in June, and countless other friends and relatives.

Through the pain, there was also delight and joy with him. He was always a gallant host when I came to visit, and I remember one time where he insisted on painstakingly setting the table, layering a napkin, then a bowl, then a Ferrero Rocher candy, with a fork and a goblet of juice next to it. Once, as he was sick and nauseated, a nurse tried to give him some water. “Do you have anything stronger?” He asked, and I thought I could still see the capricious twinkle in his eye through the sickness.

Mikaela and Grandpa Grass

 But this week, his body surrendered to the wear and tear of 91 ½ years. And as Lauren and I visited him on Saturday for what we knew would be the final time, I had to turn away for a moment to compose myself from the shock of seeing him so deteriorated. With tears streaming down my face, I knelt down and looked one last time into his beautiful, lucent eyes. He couldn’t say anything, but neither could I, so we were a pair, just looking at each other and saying good-bye. Finally, I managed to thank him for all the times of music and games and pictures. I couldn’t thank him for his love, for his time, and for being Grandpa, but he knew. And after awhile, I gave him a kiss, squeezed his hand, and said good-bye—for now. On Sunday afternoon, he slipped away to Jesus. I am elated for him, and so selfishly heartbroken for myself.

On the night of his death, as I read the next chapters in my quiet time, God providentially ordained that I should read Isaiah 25 and find these words of promise:

     "He will swallow up death forever,
      And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces;
      The rebuke of His people
      He will take away from all the earth;
      For the LORD has spoken.
       And it will be said in that day:
      'Behold, this is our God;
      We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
      This is the LORD;
      We have waited for Him;
      We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.'"
~ Isaiah 25:8-9

Grandpa Grass taught me many important lessons—about history, culture, and music, but also about raising a family, loving God, and aging. And though we were not related by blood—though I did not know him as long or as intimately as his family, yet I am so grateful that he was the great-grandfather I never had. I am so blessed to have known him and I yearn for the day when we will reunite for eternity.


Privileged Reinforcements

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“Which of the ten unchangeables that God has created in your life do you wish you could change?”  My small group leader at a children’s program I attended around age ten asked.  The list of the ten unchangeables we had been learning about included things like parents, gender, and mental capacity, but the question received not a pause for thought from me. 

“Time in history,” I answered matter-of-factly.  “I wish I’d been born in the olden days.”  The ‘olden days’ denoted some limitless era long past which was far better than the modern state of affairs—after all, everybody knows that hoop skirts trump indoor plumbing any day. 

My opnion hasn’t changed much in eleven years, especially when I dwell on the steam feminism has gathered in the last decades.  Women are fast growing extinct, and girls are a dying breed.  If only the feminists of the 1960s could have known that in asserting the superiority of womankind, they were obliterating women and womanliness and setting the future of the human race itself in jeopardy.  What the feminists didn’t understand and continue to ignore is the truth that the title of “woman” is so much more than a gender label: it carries with it our God-given design, purpose, role, drives, and instincts.  Titus 2:4-5 says,
“That they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

This is why I have come to realize that I am able to be and in fact must be grateful that God counts me worthy to be a woman in the 21st century. 

God could have put me in the 18th century—I would still have had temptations and struggles and discontentments, but at least my very femininity wouldn’t have been at stake, right?  But God didn’t put me in the 18th century—why?  I ask that question again like the two year old who has just learned the word: Why didn’t God place me in the 1800s, when feminism began to really roll in the United States?  Why didn’t I grow up in the early 1900s?  Could I not have accomplished so much more for God then?

In a word, no.  The only time in history in which I could glorify God to the full extent that He desires is this brief span from the 20th to the 21st centuries that is called my lifetime.  God chose to drop me into this bedlam of iniquity that our current culture is, but not to be conformed by it.  God chose this time, this moment to place me, when true women are being derided into extinction and the mission of motherhood is being scoffed as “not enough” and girls must seemingly choose between the extremes of becoming immoral objects of desire or the androgynous boy-girl creature. 

I did not happen to be born in this time in history when the battle seems all but lost and the enemy is crowing their victory chant—God placed me here and now rather than during any of the other 6,000 years because He has a plan.  You and I are the reinforcements in this battle, and if we feel this is the most depraved time in history, we should also feel all the more grateful that God deployed us here.  If we feel the dreadful onslaught of the world and the old feminist lie wearing us down until we cannot stand anymore, we should also feel the more powerful grace of God, for even when the need is the greatest in history, we still cannot find the end of God’s grace.  If we feel the darkness is simply too great for our weak, frail selves, we need to realize that our tiny flame of light that feeds off the oil of the Holy Spirit shines the brightest that it ever has in contrast to the pitch blackness of the surrounding culture. 

It is no chance that I am a woman living in 2011 when true women are going extinct—it is a miraculously spectacularly planned point in God’s Master plan.  Nor is it a punishment that I am a woman living in 2011 when true women are going extinct.  It is the most awesome privilege that I am counted worthy by my Lord to fulfill the Great Commission in times that are not full of spiritual wealth, to experience His fathomless grace in times that are not brimming with ease, and to know His strength and power behind my light in the midnight, not just the midday.  We are privileged, are we not?  


Lord I Need You

It has been one of those weeks.

But I told Lauren I wouldn't whine through the whole blog post. Maybe just the beginning, eh?

Most stressful and emotional and all-consuming has been a major surgery Mama went through last Thursday. Home from the hospital only since Sunday night, we have already had to make another trek to the doctor's office to address complications. Dealing with extreme pain, insomnia, and the lovely side effects of all the pain meds has been brutal for Mama and stressful for the rest of us. Add on top of that Melanie's college finals, sickness for four out of the eight of us, two concerts in a weekend, teaching, and lessons, and we have had one of those weeks. 

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But it is during these kinds of weeks, when I have to remind myself to breathe and I barely have time to consume dinner, that I suddenly feel compelled to take extra time with God and His Word. I have abruptly realized how weak I am, and in tears, I go to Isaiah and read the precious words there. I wish it were not so; I wish I was as dependent upon God in the good times as I am in the bad. I'm working on that--when life is whistling along and I'm feeling tremendous, I'll remind myself of this feeling of a helpless babe held securely in God's arms.

      "Have you not known?
      Have you not heard?
      The everlasting God, the LORD,
      The Creator of the ends of the earth,
      Neither faints nor is weary.
      His understanding is unsearchable.
       He gives power to the weak,
      And to those who have no might He increases strength.
       Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
      And the young men shall utterly fall,
       But those who wait on the LORD
      Shall renew their strength;
      They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
      They shall run and not be weary,
      They shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:28-31)."

One of my favorite hymns is "Lord I Need You" by Ron Hamilton, and that has been a great comfort to me this week:

Sometimes when life seems gentle and blessings flood my way,
I turn my gaze away from You and soon forget to pray.
But when the sky grows darker and courage turns to fear,
My anxious voice cries upward with words you long to hear.

Lord, I need You when the sea of life is calm.
O Lord, I need You when the wind is blowing strong.
Whether trials come or cease, keep me always on my knees.
Lord, I need You. Lord I need You.
Lord, help me to remember I'm weak but You are strong.
I cannot sing apart from You, for Lord You are my song.
Although I'm prone to wander and boast in all I do;
Lord keep my eyes turned upward so I depend on You.

Last night, I dreamt that Jesus came back. What a wonderful lovely dream to have last night! It put things in perspective and reminded me, once again, not to worry so much about all the dirty laundry I haven't gotten to, and the clean laundry that is molding into the shape of our laundry baskets, and the Christmas gifts I have yet to make, and the Christmas traditions I am cheating my younger siblings of because of my preoccupation with other things. This life is the indent to the first paragraph of a great novel called Eternity

So I'm living today with Eternity reflecting in my eyes and God's Word in my heart, and I'm writing this post so I can come back next week and remind my forgetful self.   


Photograph: Dia


Mercy Isn't Always Rosy

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I’m a lot like Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, so my sister tells me.  Mercy is my strength, while teaching is Mikaela’s, which frequently makes for some opposite yet complementing perspectives.  Just recently, Mikaela and I were both involved in the same situation, and when talking it over afterwards, Mikaela asked if I had sensed reticence in the person we had been communicating with—a certain unwillingness to help us out.  I hadn’t noticed anything of the sort—wasn’t the person just a bit distracted?  Yet, in the next week, the matter revealed itself to be according to Mikaela’s discerning.  How had I missed this person’s subtle communications and excused what signs I did observe, yet Mikaela had discerned the true heart of the matter?  This was not a huge shortcoming in this minor example, but what about when I need to discipline a child or discern that a rift in a relationship has occurred and needs mending, and my vision is too rose-colored to notice? 

Don’t get me wrong—in some ways it can be helpful to go through life with rose-colored blinders fastened securely over my eyes.  It is easier to avoid little hurts and offences.  It definitely invites less pain to me.  Indeed, it is good not to hold grudges, not to hug bitterness close like a friend.  But it is also good to live in reality, saying out loud the truth that we all are fallible, and we all make mistakes.  It is good to live in honesty about failures in my own life as well as in the lives of others rather than in denial. 

I want to give people second chances, excuse a fault, withold discipline, all because I do not want to cause them pain.  But if what someone needs is to feel the consequences of their choice the first time, be called on their blind spot, and experience discipline, and it is my Biblical responsibility to do so, then it is the worst kind of hatred to protect a loved one from that.  if I can sit by and refuse to offer honest help when the matter is in my jurisdiction, then it turns me from the loving Jane to the sadly pitiable Mr. Bennet who showed bitter lenience to his wild daughter.

As a music teacher, when a student plays a piece imperfectly, the temptation to simply pass him onto the next piece is not very strong anymore because I have seen the results of such a bitter mercy.  The child will slog on, mistakes compounding, confidence dwindling, practice time shrinking, until such discouragement and frustration sets in that he gives up. 

For those of us who struggle with applying mercy correctly, we need to keep in mind that God’s mercy is rich and unfathomable, yet always just.  He always keeps His word, yet He is always ready to forgive.  He did not give Adam and Eve a reprieve from the immediate consequences they chose by their acts of rebellion, yet He promised  them a Savior from eternal death.  Jesus died that He might save us from our sins, and yet we still experience the loving reproof of our Heavenly Father when we stray.  Even the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant in the Old Testament reflects God’s perfect balance of mercy and justice, as the mercy seat lay over the just and unbending Testimony that God gave His people. 

“You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you.  And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.”-Exodus 25:21-22

What would the Gospel be without justice?  It would be an empty shell, with no need for God incarnate to descend from Heaven to save us from sins God was not holding us accountable for.  Yet what would the Gospel be without mercy?  It would be a hard façade, still with no God incarnate to be willing to descend to earth to suffer, to redeem us from the very sins that would put Him on the cross.  May my life be neither an empty shell nor a hard façade, but a beautiful reflection of Christ Himself. 


Stony Last Words

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For the past eight days, I've been regaling my family, friends, and anyone who will listen with random rememberances from one year ago. (For the record, one year ago today, I was sitting in Heathrow airport, waiting for my very delayed flight to come and take me home!)

Mikaela in front of the Tower of London

"Today, one year ago, we were flying to England!" I reminded Mama on November 28th.

"A year ago, we were at the World and Royal Premiere of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader!" I mused on the 29th to Papa.

Yes, I've been living in the past just a little bit, warming to those beautiful memories I made with Mama, which I will hold in my heart forever.

Mama posing in the Tower

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 One structure has especially stood out amongst my memories, however, and caused me to ponder upon deeper topics. Beauchamp Tower--part of the Tower of London--caught my fancy the minute Mama and I stepped inside, shivering in the below-freezing dusk. The romance of standing in a place erected in 1275 was overwhelming (although not scarce to be had in England and France). But walking through the stone corridors and up the winding stone staircase was even more emotional. For, painstakingly etched into the rock walls, were dozens of names, dates, quotes, and engravings. Of the hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners kept in this three-story tower over the centuries, many of them were never released. These walls, I realized, were covered in the last words of men who had found themselves checkmated. Some were fools who deserved death, but many more of them were brave wise souls who had done nothing wrong.

The Tower of London, from Mama's camera lens

I found the nonsensical (see picture below):
"You that these beasts do well behold andsee,
May deem with ease wherefore here made they be,
with borders eke wherein 4 brothers names who list to search the ground. John Dudley"
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The hopeful: "I am waiting for my liberty. Philip Howard [Earl of Arundel 1587]"

The spiritual: "We adore thee, Blessed Lord. Thomas Peverel [1571]"

"In God is my hope. [Sir Richard?] Page"

"Better it is to be in the house of mourning than in the house of banqueting.
The heart of the wise is in the mourning house.
It is much better to have some chastening that to have overmuch liberty.
There is a time for all things, a time to be born and a time to die, and the day of death is better than the day of birth.
There is an end of all things and the end of a thing is better than the beginning.
Be wise and patient in trouble for wisdom defendeth as well as money.
Use well the time of prosperity and remember the time of misfortune. William Rame 2 April 1559" (See picture below)

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    "Learn to fear God. J.C."

Then there was the guilty: "An evil conscience makes men afraid even when safe. G.G. 1586"

There was the romantic: "My heart is yours till death. Thomas Wyllingar"

Which almost certainly stands for Lady Jane Grey, who died in the Tower of London, but was never know to have resided in Beauchamp Tower. What is most likely, is that her husband, Lord Guilford Dudley (one of the aforementioned four brothers in the first quote) or his brother enscribed her name there in support of her. Both Jane and her husband were executed by Queen Mary in 1554 because of Jane's rightful claim to the throne.

And there was the wise: "To whom you tell the secret you give liberty. Richard Blount 9 July 1553"
"The word of the Lord remains. John Prine 1568"

The despairing: "Close prisoner 32 weeks, 224 days, 5376 hours. T. Salmon 1622"
 "Oh, unhappy man that I think myself to be."

And the hasty: "R.D."

All of which leads me to wonder...what would I laboriously etch into stone during my last days on earth?

All unattributed pictures are Mama's and my own. 


Routine is for Sissies

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 What are you doing today?  Maybe you are teaching your little boy the letter “d”—just like you did yesterday and the day before, and every day for the past week since he’s looked up at you every morning and gasped with dismay, “I forgot my “d”, Mama!”  Only twenty-two letters to go.  You gird yourself up with the thought. 

Maybe you are doing schoolwork—the story of your life, the same thing you have been doing for the past six months, or the past eleven years, for that matter.  Essays, algebra, and tests.  Repeat.  Trying your hardest not to get an “F”, and stretching towards that Christmas break like a marathon runner towards the finish line. 

Maybe you are peeling apples like I will be doing—just like yesterday and the day before that, juice dribbling everywhere, all but drowning in the stickiness.  Piles of browning peels, a floor glistening with sticky apple juice, arm-deep in it—it’s a glamorous job. 

I could be wrong—perhaps you are actually doing something exotic and exciting today, like elephant-riding or parasailing or dolphin-swimming.  Yes, there is the possibility you are leaving for your European tour today—there is always possibility after all, but it is far more likely that today you are anticipating just another standard, ordinary Friday.  It is far more likely that you are making beds or cramming for that final or practicing for that concert or writing that paper or wiping that baby’s nose for the umpteenth time.  The cacophony of possibilities of what you—people from all ends of the globe—could be doing today mounts into one joyous, rowdy symphony—the symphony of Friday, December 2nd, 2011. 

And whatever the person next to us is doing today, I am sure it sounds enchanting to us, for that is the sad way of human nature.  But I am equally as sure that the very hum-drum that you are doing sounds equally as enchanting to that other person. 

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”-Hebrews 13:5-6

So take a moment, lay your routine out on the table next to mine and that of every other person reading this, scan them, and marvel at how un-routine your hum-drum really is.   Stare open-mouthed at all of the little candles spread across the table in all the corners of the world, and rejoice in how mighty a light these little candles form when they brighten their corners.  Allow yourself to be bowled completely off your feet with the giddy delight of a first-timer at your old hat routine.  Revel with me in the privilege that out of all this world, God hand-picked you for today’s assignment.  Only you.  And God doesn’t do routine assignments—He does pop quizzes, sudden twists, lurking surprises, and extraordinary undertakings, but no routine.  No corner-brightening mission is ever routine. 

Inner discouragement with boring routine means spiritual blindness to God’s eternal goals.  To a casual observer we may just be teaching the letter “d”, doing schoolwork, and working elbow-deep in apples, but God knows and we know that no battlefield is routine. 

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