Friday, December 31, 2010

Morning Coffee - Getting it Righter!

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.  ~Oprah Winfrey

It seems that no matter how philosophically or spiritually I look at the beginning of a new year, it really just comes down to this.  I start the year with a new notebook, a new outlook and a new determination – hoping against all hopes that this will be the year that I get it right righter!

With a raised mug of coffee, I offer a hearty "Cheers" to a wonderful new year!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Morning Coffee - A Bright New Year!

I came across these wonderfully encouraging words of Karin on her blog, Yesterday, Today, Forever - and thought I’d share them here. 

Serve God with your whole heart, in joy and contentment.

Be strong and courageous. Be not afraid.

You’re never alone in your journey of life.

God will not fail you! Be not dismayed.

Do not look back! Keep your eye on the goal!

Only what’s done for Christ will last!

Don’t rest on your laurels or deny your mistakes!

The future looks brighter than any day past.

Karin Ristau

What a wonderful list of “resolutions” to have as the New Year begins.  For, as Karin affirms, “The future looks brighter than any day past.” 

Time to refill my cup and go over this list of encouraging promises one more time!  

Thanks Karin!
Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Morning Coffee

Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits. 
~ Unknown

What better reason to sit with a second cup of coffee:   to contemplate all my new starts!


Monday, December 27, 2010

A Fun Give Away at Lazy Bee Farm

Matty at Lazy Bee Farm Blog is offering a wonderful selection of her home-made items to her blog readers.  Check out her interesting blog and this fun tin of gifts here!  To enter, simply leave a comment for Matty and her readers.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Prince of Peace

December 25

"His name shall be called Emmanuel . . . God with us." (Matt. 1:23) .
"The Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6).

"There's a song in the air!
There's a star in the sky!
There's a mother's deep prayer,
And a baby's low cry!
And the star rains its fire
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King."

Streams in the Desert
Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Morning Coffee - Calling Back

"It shall turn to you for a testimony''  Luke 21:13.

“Life is a steep climb, and it does the heart good to have somebody ‘call back’ and cheerily beckon us on up the high hill. We are all climbers together, and we must help one another. This mountain climbing is serious business, but glorious. It takes strength and steady step to find the summits. The outlook widens with the altitude. If anyone among us has found anything worth while, we ought to ‘call back’.”

Streams in the Desert
Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman

I love this image of calling back. Can’t you picture kids playing and one excitedly calling to the others, “Hey guys, come and look at this!”  And everyone runs to see and share the experience.

And isn’t this what we bloggers do in our daily posting. Hey guys, look at what I found…discovered…learned…or felt. And we all gather (albeit electronically) to read and share and grow – and find summits together.

I believe I’ll go pour a second cup of coffee and see who is “calling back” this morning!


Monday, December 20, 2010

"Maybe Christmas...perhaps... means a little bit more!."

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, "How could it be so?
"It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
"It came without packages, boxes or bags."
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps... means a little bit more!."

Dr. Seuss - How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

This is a favorite passage of mine(And all the more so after a day of wrapping, tying and tagging.)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Morning Coffee - All Delightful and Undisturbed

December 17
Holiness--as I then wrote down some of my contemplations on it--appeared to me to be of a sweet, calm, pleasant, charming, serene nature, which brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness, ravishment to the soul; in other words, that it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant fruits and flowers, all delightful and undisturbed, enjoying a sweet calm and the gentle vivifying beams of the sun.   ~Jonathan Edwards

Streams in the Desert
by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman

How great to be able to begin each day with my soul "all delightful and undisturbed".  My morning devotions and morning coffee both help get me off to a good start in that direction!  Time for a second cup!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Morning Coffee

Love is all you need -

but a good cup of coffee doesn't hurt either!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Morning Coffee

"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make
for our children."  ~Sitting Bull

Today, December 15, 2010, is the 120th anniversary of the death of Sitting Bull, the great Sioux leader. 


Monday, December 13, 2010

But Leave the Thread with God

"I will give thee the treasures of darkness"  Isa. 45:3
In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are certain rooms devoted to the spinning of the finest and most delicate patterns. These rooms are altogether darkened, save for a light from one very small window, which falls directly upon the pattern. There is only one spinner in the room, and he sits where the narrow stream of light falls upon the threads of his weaving. "Thus," we are told by the guide, "do we secure our choicest products. Lace is always more delicately and beautifully woven when the worker himself is in the dark and only his pattern is in the light."

"May it not be the same with us in our weaving?"    ~J. R. Miller

The shuttles of His purpose move
To carry out His own design;
Seek not too soon to disapprove
His work, nor yet assign
Dark motives, when, with silent tread,
You view some soinbre fold;
For lo, within each darker thread
There twines a thread of gold.

Spin cheerfully,
Not tearfully,
He knows the way you plod;
Spin carefully,
Spin prayerfully,
But leave the thread with God.

--Canadian Home Journal

Streams in the Desert
by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman

Family Wrapping Party

Silliness first

Three special grandkids!!

Two special kids!  
Seems like only yesterday that they were sitting under the tree in their pjs!  A fun time wrapping was had by all - and then came the snow!


Snow Snow Snow Snow Snow

Grandson Noah - King of the Hill
(Photo courtesy of Jenn at The Schires Five Blogspot)

It was a great weekend to hunker down inside and watch White Christmas! We will definitely be having one of those!!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Morning Coffee - Or How Many Socks Do I Need?

A couple of weeks ago, my son and a buddy loaded up on hot pizza, warm dry socks and bottled water and headed to downtown St. Paul to offer these things to those who might need them.  Sadly, there were many takers and their supplies were quickly gone.  Just before they left, a fellow who had been served earlier stopped by again asking if there wasn’t another pair of socks left.  It seems there was a young girl who had just arrived who needed a pair.  Unfortunately, Chris explained, the socks were all gone.  “Thanks, anyway” the man said and then walked over to the young girl and gave her his pair.

I think I need to assess over my coffee this cold Minnesota morning, how many socks do I need before I give a pair away.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Morning Coffee

We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.  ~ John Stott

This is far from the same slick message touted by so many of our culture’s current Christian self-help books.  The purpose of God’s Word is not to make our road smooth and easy but rather to make us stronger and better fit for the journey.   

Oh – how often I need to remind myself of that.  I believe I’ll pour another cup of coffee and contemplate my spiritual fitness as I begin this day.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Morning Coffee

"The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions -- the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment."
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I love the use of math illustrations; I relate to numbers and equations very well.  But you don't have to be  a  math lover to know that a whole is the sum of many fractions - and you don't get the big number without a whole lot of smaller ones.  I think I'll have another cup of coffee and begin gathering some fractions to create a wonderfully full and whole day!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Committed Yes!

November 30 - The Annunciation 
by Kathleen Norris

Mary's "How can this be?" is a simpler response than Zechariah's and also more profound. She does not lose her voice but finds it. Like any of the prophets, she asserts herself before God, saying, "Here am I." There is no arrogance, however, but only holy fear and wonder. Mary proceeds--as we must do in life--making her commitment without knowing much about what it will entail or where it will lead. I treasure the story because it forces me to ask: When the mystery of God's love breaks through into my consciousness, do I run from it? Do I ask of it what it cannot answer? Shrugging, do I retreat into facile clich├ęs, the popular but false wisdom of what "we all know"? Or am I virgin enough to respond from my deepest, truest self, and say something new, a "yes" that will change me forever?

Watch For the Light
Readings for Advent and Christmas

Making a commitment “without knowing much about what it will entail or where it will lead” is a very, very tough thing for me to do.  I need a plan – a detailed plan.  I need to know the route to my destination and how long it will take.  I need to know what to expect both along the way and when I arrive.  I pour over maps.  I plan agendas and make lists. 

But deep down what I really want to do is offer an unconditional, trusting “yes” and be changed forever. 


Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Sunday in Advent - Waiting

"The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction."
Henri Nouwen
Watch for the Light


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Morning Coffee

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”  Luke 1:37
“Face it out to the end, cast away every shadow of hope on the human side as an absolute hindrance to the Divine, heap up all the difficulties together recklessly, and pile as many more on as you can find; you cannot get beyond the blessed climax of impossibility.  Let faith swing out to Him.  He is the God of the impossible.   -Selected

Streams in the Desert
Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman
I believe I’ll have another cup of coffee and focus on improving my swing!!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."
~ W. T. Purkiser


Monday, November 22, 2010

Poetry Book Request

We selected an ornament from the Ronald McDonald tree at our favorite McDonald's.  I loved this young 18 year old's  request for a poetry book.  However now that I have the ornament home and need to pick something out for her, I don't have a clue what to look for.  I was never much of a literature student; math and science were more my thing so I am really at a loss as to what would be a great choice for an 18 year old.  Any suggestions from you writers and English teachers  - or anyone who has a favorite?? (I hate to admit it but I do believe the only poetry book I own is Where the Sidewalk Ends!)


Morning Coffee

Why are some Christians so anxious, so fearful? Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord. They took it to Him, but brought it away with them again. --Selected
Streams in the Desert
Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman

It's time to pour another cup of coffee and consider all of the "ways" that I continue to hold on to.  Completely letting go is so darn difficult!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Morning Coffee

"There is always a smooth piece in every skein, however tangled."
Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman

This one thought caught my attention during devotions this morning.  As a novice knitter, a tangled skein is a familiar predicament.  And I am learning - both in my knitting and in my daily life - that the best way to work through a tangled mess, is to do so gently.  Yanking and pulling (and cussing) does no good!!  It only serves to tighten the tangled mess making it harder to overcome.  And life is the same way.  The harder we fight against a knot, the tighter it holds us.

Instead, work gently with the treads, even giving them their way sometimes, and somehow in an often unexplained way, the tangled mess falls apart and the skein becomes smooth again.

I think I'll have a second cup of coffee and gently plan my day!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blessed is he -

“Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”  Luke 7:23
“It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ. 
The offenses may be circumstantial.  I find myself in a prison-house – a narrow sphere, a sick chamber, an unpopular position – when I had hoped for wide opportunities.  Yes, but He knows what is best for me.  My environment is of His determining.  He means it to intensify my faith, to draw me into nearer communion with Himself, to ripen my power.  In the dungeon my soul should prosper.

The offense may be mental.  I am haunted by perplexities, questions, which I cannot solve.  I had hoped that, when I gave myself to Him, my sky would always be clear; but often it is overspread by mist and cloud.  Yet let me believe that, if difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him all the more implicitly – to trust and not be afraid.  Yes, and by my intellectual conflicts, I am trained to be a tutor to other storm-driven men.

The offense may be spiritual.  I had fancied that within His fold I should never feel the biting winds of temptation; but it is best as it is.  His grace is magnified.  My own character is matured.  His heaven is sweeter at the close of the day.  There I shall look back on the turnings and trials of the way, and shall sing the praises of my Guide.  So, let come what will come, His will is welcome; and I shall refuse to be offended in my loving Lord.
– Alexander Smellie

Streams in the Desert
Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman


Monday, November 15, 2010

Morning Coffee

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

And the realization that the possibilities are endless!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where is your Olivet?

“If I have found grace in thy sight, show me thy glory.” Exodus 33:13

"Who has not in moments of meditation and prayer caught a glimpse of opening gates? Who has not in the secret place of holy communion felt the rush of some white surging wave of emotion – a foretaste of the joy of the blessed?

"The Master had times and places for quiet converse with His disciples, once on the peak of Hermon, but oftener on the sacred slopes of Olivet. Every Christian should have his Olivet. Most of us, especially in the cities and towns, live at high pressure. From early morning until bedtime we are exposed to the whirl. Amid all this maelstrom how little chance for quiet thought, for God’s Word, for prayer and heart fellowship!"

Streams in the Desert
By Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman

I have a chair that has become my Olivet. Early each morning I sit there and enjoy my first cups of coffee. I read the morning paper – and then I read a devotional, pray and write. Over time, this chair has grown to symbolize “quiet time”. Amidst the business of the day, I can take a cup of coffee – and often a piece of chocolate - and sit in this chair and immediately feel a sense of calm and restoration; my whole outlook seems to change. Some might think it just the coffee and chocolate -- but I know it is so much more than that!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Morning Coffee in November

"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air."      


Monday, November 8, 2010

Beginning to Prepare

It’s hard not to begin to plan for the upcoming Christmas season; the stores have been sporting decorations for weeks and retail radio and TV ads already have a decidedly Holiday theme. So I’m sure I’m not alone in my beginning to prepare.  This past week I found two things to use during this season of Christmas. The first is book for Advent devotions - Watch for the Light.

This is the Product Description:
“From Johann Christoph Arnold to Dorothy Day, from Madeline L'Engle to Karl Barth, from Saint Thomas Aquinas to Meister Eckhart, this unparalleled anthology offers wisdom beauty and spiritual nourishment from a wide spectrum of classic and contemporary sources.”
“Containing a selection for each day of the Christmas season, from the last week of November through the first week of January, Watch for the Light can be read through times of leisure or as a guide to daily devotions. Either way it will give new meaning to the phrase ‘holiday preparations.’"
I’m really looking forward to reading and meditating on these various writings and writers.

Secondly, a visit to our favorite thrift store yielded this little treasure. I already have several of these small plastic ornaments from the sixties. So it was fun to find another for my collection. I love the little details – right down to the “Gloria” banner held by the angel.

I think it might be time to bring out the others to enjoy, too.
Merry Christmas!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Morning Coffee - Savoring Fellowships

On the last page of the devotional, Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman is an invitation to join the “Streams in the Desert Prayer Fellowship”.

The reader of the book is invited to send her name and address to a "Los Angeles" address and in return she will receive a Membership card “admitting [her] into a fellowship with thousands of readers who pray daily for one another”. She will also receive each issue of the Streams in the Desert Fellowship Letter. (Don’t you wish you could read one of those letters? Can’t you just imagine the excitement on the day the letter arrives in her mailbox?)

This is such a good reminder of how lucky we are today to have the internet and all it provides for us; all of the wonderful blogs, websites and connections that sit at our finger tips just waiting to encourage, inspire or entertain us.

But I wonder who savors their “fellowship” more – Mrs. Cowman’s friend who waits patiently and expectantly for her monthly letter to arrive or someone like me who grabs a few minutes of reading time whenever I pass by my computer; Mrs. Cowman’s friend who, when her fellowship letter does arrive, reads and rereads it (many times I suspect) or someone like me who flits from piece to post, barely staying put for more than a minute or two.

This will be interesting food for thought over my coffee today!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

But Prayer...

November 2
“But prayer…” (Acts 12:5)

"Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, above all that we ask or think. Each time you intercede, be quiet first and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, of how He delights to hear Christ, of your place in Christ; and expect great things."
Andrew Murray

Streams in the Desert
By Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman


Monday, November 1, 2010

Morning Coffee - Investing pennies

"Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back."
~Thomas Sowell

I believe that while I enjoy my second cup of coffee, I'll consider all of the ways I can invest pennies today!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Refiner and Purifier

“He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” Mal. 3:3

“Our Father, who seeks to perfect His saints in holiness, knows the value of the refiner’s fire. It is with the most precious metals that the assayer takes the most pains, and subjects them to the hot fire, because such fires melt the metal, and only the molten mass releases its alloy or takes perfectly its new form in the mould. The old refiner never leaves his crucible, but sits down by it, lest there should be one excessive degree of heat to mar the metal. But as soon as he skims from the surface the last of the dross, and sees his own face reflected, he puts out the fire. ~ Arthur T. Pierson

Streams in the Desert
Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick or Treat!



On Halloween I'll go to town
And wear my trousers upside down,
and wear my shoes turned inside out
And wear a wig of sauerkraut.

Shel Silverstei


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Morning Coffee

Today is the birthday of the Ticker Tape Parade? 124 years ago, on this day in
1886, the first ticker tape parade celebrated the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.

I think I'll pour another cup of coffee and spend a few minutes reading more about the Statue of Liberty here.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Holy Garden

“He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when evening was come, he was there alone.”  ~ Matt. 14:23

“[Alphonse de] Lamartine speaks in one of his books of a secluded walk in his garden where his mother always spent a certain hour of the day, upon which nobody ever dreamed for a moment of intruding, It was the holy garden of the Lord to her. Poor souls that have no such Beulah land! Seek thy private chamber, Jesus says. It is in the solitude that we catch the mystic notes that issue from the soul of things.”
Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman – Streams in the Desert


Morning Coffee

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."
-- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

On the other hand, it does not do to be so busy living that we forget to dream. So I think I'll pour another cup of coffee and dream a little.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Liberty Trees

Liberty Tree, St. John's College
From my email inbox today:
"Today is the anniversary of the Liberty Trees. In 1999, the last of the 13 Liberty Trees, one for each of the 13 original U.S. colonies, was cut down after being severely damaged by Hurricane Floyd. The 400-year-old tulip poplar on the campus of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, served as a rallying point in the 1770s for colonial patriots who desired freedom from British rule."

More about the Liberty Trees can be found here.

Maybe it's time to plant 50 new Liberty Trees so that we never forget what a priceless gift we have been given by those who went before us.  I would choose a Red Maple.  What a beautiful tree!  What is your favorite?


Friday, October 22, 2010

The Ordinary Road

“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” (Exod. 3:1,2)

“The vision came in the midst of common toil, and that is where the Lord delights to give His revelations. He seeks a man who is on the ordinary road, and the Divine fire leaps out at his feet. The mystic ladder can rise from the market place to Heaven. It can connect the realm of drudgery with the realms of grace.”

“My Father God, help me to expect Thee on the ordinary road. I do not ask for sensational happenings. Commune with me through ordinary work and duty. Be my Companion when I take the common journey. Let the humble life be transfigured by Thy presence.”

Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Morning Coffee - From this day forward!

From this day forward; this is all that I have. There are no do-overs; no going back and starting again. Today is it! The day the rest of my life begins.

There are an infinite number of first steps I can take. And all will take me someplace new. How do I choose? How do I know which step to take?

Maybe a second cup of coffee and morning devotions will face me in the right direction. 

I do know this, however: a good first step will move me forward and will leave something unneeded behind.

"Everyone who got where he is has had to begin where he was."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

R. L. Stevenson on Travel

"If we didn’t travel now and then, we should forget what the feeling of life is."
Robert Louis Stevenson


Chasing Steeples

 Jim and I just returned from a 3 day drive down the east side of Iowa.  It is such a beautiful area – following the Mississippi river - I never get tired of driving it.  And when we take these drives we become steeple-chasers.  Now we aren’t on horseback and we rarely encounter hurdles but we do, as the name suggests, chase steeples.  The Iowa country side is the best for seeking steeples; they dot most every country road.

Most often these country churches are Lutheran as the Scandinavians were major immigrants to the farmlands of Iowa.  But closer to the River we found historically significant Catholic Parishes.

This church was the most interesting.  St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the area of Garryowen, Iowa just south and west of Dubuque was established by Irish immigrants from County Limerick in 1838-1839.  The parish was founded by the Father Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli, OP in 1840.   (More on Father Mazzuchelli can be found here.)

 We found St. Patrick’s only because we first saw the steeple of St. Lawrence Catholic Church.  While stopping and admiring this church, a retired Pastor - and now caretaker of sorts - came out to visit with us.  He gave us some history about both St. Lawrence and then he mentioned St. Patrick’s church and suggested that we search it out.  We followed his directions and found the church nestled way off the beaten path.  Mass is still offered in both churches.  And both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Getting off the highways always provides interesting discoveries.