Friday, August 24, 2012

The Shepherdess Speaks

Life is a Rough Draft

For it is God Himself whose power creates within you the desire to do His gracious will and also brings about the accomplishment of the desire. 
 Weymouth New Testament

Another one of those days -- rough from the get-go, nothing seemed to gel or work smoothly. A phone call, a problem left unsolved and the end of the week was melting into a huge puddle of poor endings.

I made a cup of ginger tea and sat down to relax. Glancing at the tea table, I noticed the hand-crafted journal that Alexandria had given me for mother’s day. On the cover were the words: Life is a Rough Draft.
Musing over the words, I understood the significance of this statement. Yes, life definitely was a rough draft; moments of time we hope are perfect and seamless the first time we encounter a new or different experience. 

As in actual writing, the first draft is rarely, if ever, perfect. In fact, it may take many drafts, hours of rewriting, rethinking the plot, clarifying the point, the outcome, and then the final polish.

Just this week, a book I was reading included the author’s plea/prayer for mercy from the editor and I had to laugh when the editor included the author’s prayer in the final product. It read as follows:
Almighty God, keep the pencil of the editor off these sacred words and let not the reader scorn to read them.

But…as God’s child, I have a “Perfect Editor” who corrects the errors and tells me to: write it again and this time…get it right. I need the editor’s pencil on my life’s work! He carefully goes over the lines and corrects my errors with love and mercy. I’m glad He doesn’t pencil me out or send me a rejection notice, but instead, He offers help and guidance for my rough draft, a positive critique of my efforts. I am improving my rough draft day by day and with my Editor’s help, I want my final manuscript to be the one perfect masterpiece to offer my Lord at the close of my days. 

Edit my life, O Lord, and help me to cut what is unnecessary, to beautify what is unlovely, to simplify and clarify what is too complex, and let me not shrink from the editor’s pen, but embrace the correction, knowing the final draft will be a story worth telling. Add love and mercy to cover the script. Amen. 

The Shepherdess

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Be still and know that I am God 
Psalms 46:10

Wright snapped this photo while walking near Wildrose Cottage this month.
The "Red Admiral" lit on my shoulder where it stayed for several minutes. It had a message for me.

Be still, and know that I am God
 Psalm 46:10

We have in our spiritual flock, a number of impossible situations – problems so complex that I lay awake thinking of ways to resolve them. I explore the scriptures, read countless books on the subject, pray continually. I imagine what I might say to the individual in need. In short, I do everything in my human ability to work the problem out. Still, I find I am hopelessly limited in my efforts. It’s then I realize that only “Divine intervention”, a miracle in fact, will resolve the dilemma. In Psalm 46:10, we are commanded to “be still”, a sobering message to the child of God. This is an exhortation to cease from our own labors. 

Twice in recent years when spiritual storms threatened to overturn my frail little boat, a silent messenger in the form of a butterfly soothed my agitated spirit. While vacationing in the Scottish Highlands, a Red Admiral butterfly lit on my head, staying there for several minutes. I waited, not wanting to disturb the winged beauty. It seemed to whisper, “be still, be still.” All my feeble efforts to resolve life’s problems had failed. “Be still, be still.” I understood. I let go and let God work His own plan. The resolution came quickly then and peace was restored. While at Wildrose Cottage this month, another Red Admiral lit on my shoulder, staying for several minutes. Was God trying to tell me something?

Once again, I was trying to “help God” resolve what only He could do. “Be still, be still.” 

I must cease from working in my human ways and works. God’s plan is past human knowledge and our dependence must be upon Him alone. In this noisy, sinful world, we realize that we are finite and that God is infinite, unlimited. Study to be quiet, to stand still, to be still, to wait, to abandon our efforts, and to loose our hold on things. Just relax and let God…
God is able to do what we cannot accomplish in a lifetime of effort.

He is God, the ruler of the kingdoms of men, the all-powerful Creator of the Universe and all that we know and see. He will be there, for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea…” Psalm 46:1-2

Be Still.


 Hiking in the Carringorms in the Scottish Highlands, this "Red Admiral" lit on my head. Is God trying to tell me something?  How strange and marvelous are God's ways!

The Shepherdess

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Special time...

Dinner for Brenda

The birthday of a dear friend and sister in the Lord is this month, so we made it special with dinner and an overdue visit that lasted until the hour of midnight when we all turned into pumpkins and said, “Goodnight…let’s do this again soon.”

Since this was a special birthday, I decided on a deep red motif and had fun assembling everything to match a birthday on a tropical August evening. The menu? Green salad with tropical fruit, avocado, nuts, and bleu cheese, baked salmon and shrimp in garlic sauce, new parleyed potatoes, baby lima beans, hot buttered beets, hot cheese bread, and for dessert -- pineapple upside-down cake. Yum!

The tablecloth is from Guatemala, foraged from a huge pile in the market of Port Barrios, a great place to find unique table coverings and other things made from native fabric. After the mission work is over, visiting the market is a favorite thing to do

The Shepherdess

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Shepherdess Speaks


 The Gift

And since I have naught to give
And love alone must make amends
My humble prayer is while I live
Lord, make me worthy of my friends”

Elizabeth Davidson Carmichael

This week, I ran across an old clipping in a box -- you know the kind; carefully clipped from some magazine or newspaper and kept for some future meditation. It was hand-written by my paternal grandmother, Elizabeth, and the writing ran downhill on the scrap of paper as though she hurried. Perhaps this was her original verse, I am not sure, but the thought in the poem caused me to think about ‘friendship’.

So much said on the subject of friendship—an amazing amount of fluff, cutesy signs and posters, but the reality may be far different than, “A friend is someone who…” (Fill in the blank).

Three key elements in my grandmother’s verse:

(1) Friendship is a “gift”

(2) “Love alone” supports friendship

(3) We must be a “worthy” friend

Friendship gives itself to the emotional trust of another person. When differences arise, love and devotion remains steadfast, each person supporting the integrity of this trust, and in turn, each must prove a worthy friend. It is much like a marriage relationship.

I thought of “Piglet’s” quote:

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”
“We'll be friends forever, won't we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered.
 A. A. Minle

Like entering into marriage, we want to feel sure, to trust. We want our name to be safe in our friend’s keeping. The sad truth is that even our friends will inadvertently hurt us, but then, friends are worth suffering for.

Over the years, I have learned some things about friendship. False friends have come and gone, walked away, shut me out, taken advantage, and cast away my gift of friendship. But some friends have remained true, loved me in spite of what came and went, were loyal to this trust, to our sacred vow of friendship.

“…but I have called you friends” John 15:15
I will pray for my friend; for friends are the glue that binds our spirits to earth in our common faith and goal…to meet each other again in our heavenly home. Jesus said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. John 15:14

This is the vital key to lasting friendship. Jesus is a true friend, our example, one that stays closer than a brother, never forsaking even in the hard times. To be a good friend, we must be like Him.

Read Elizabeth's life story in "The Wild Rose of Lancaster."  See book trailer on left column of this blog

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vintage lamp at Wildrose Cottage

Psalm 119:105
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path

When her grandchildren reached the age of 12, my paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Davidson Carmichael, presented the birthday child with a new red-letter edition Bible complete with color pictures and name embossed on the cover. Perhaps Grandma thought that twelve was an appropriate age to own a personal Bible or perhaps she reasoned that Jesus was twelve when he sought out the leaders of the temple to talk with them about the Holy Scriptures. Whatever the reason, it was with a Bible and a kiss that Grandma presented me with this special gift on my 12th birthday. She had written on the flyleaf in her own hand, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” PS 119:105.

Now, just what did that mean?

At that time, I wasn’t too impressed with this “spiritually practical” book and for many years, it remained buried in a drawer—a keepsake from my grandmother. But finally, after years of searching and groping in my own personal darkness, I picked up this same Bible and read:  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

This book became a light in my darkness. The light of the gospel had pierced through the gloom and shadows of my life and I understood what it meant to be truly free. I have been forever grateful and not a little nostalgic about this particular Bible.

Over the years, this Bible has traveled with me in my journeys until I put it away to prevent further damage to the well-worn cover. God’s word, the Bible, has truly been a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Grandma never knew how this wonderful gift had changed my life. After her death at the age of 86, I yielded my life and my will to my Savior, Jesus Christ and the Bible has been my constant companion since that day. 

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Reader

For years, my husband and I have collected antiquarian and rare books by a variety of authors. Our daughters grew up reading the novels that inspire noble character and strong moral behavior, those principles founded on Biblical virtues. Reading inspirational and wholesome material in addition to the Bible, guides the tender conscience of a young child.

While at Wildrose cottage last week, we foraged through some antique shops and located some rare old volumes. One book by James Bell Naylor included some thought provoking prose.


When all is said and all is done,
When all is lost or all is won—
In spite of musty theory,
Of purblind faith and vain conceit,
Of barren creed and sophistry:
In spite of all—success, defeat,
The Judge accords to worst and best,
Impartially, this final test:
What hast thou done with brawn and brain,
To help the world to lose or gain
An onward step? Canst reckon one
Unselfish, brave or noble deed,
That thou—nor counting cost! Hast done
To help a brother’s crying need?
Not what professed nor what believed
But what good thing hast thou achieved!

James Ball Naylor