Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Longest Day

I saw a golden glow to the west in the space between the evergreens.  I grabbed my camera and hurried out the back door to capture the sunset.  To the south over a neighboring farm and to the north over steel grain bins, wispy clouds glowed pink, creating a high canopy over the steel-blue line of another front moving in.

On this evening, one day past summer solstice–the longest day of the year–the sun had just dipped below the horizon.  The clouds, far north in the western sky, were splashed gold and rose and azure.

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In the northern hemisphere (where I live), each day will now be shorter, and the sun will seem to set farther south, until winter’s start in the cold, dark days before Christmas.

I have passed, unknowingly, my personal summer solstice, too.  The number of days behind me outnumbers those ahead.  I have a choice now to let this realization color my remaining years with sadness only or to leave room for the broad strokes of thankfulness.  I want to say, with David, that my

my cup brims with blessing   Psalm 23:5   MSG

I embrace the Biblical phrase “full of years” that was applied to Abraham, Job, and David. I hope to also be “full of years,” overflowing with experiences, friends, family–all manner of blessings.  I want my death to be at a “good age,” regardless of the actual number of years.  Imagine the joy of one day being “gathered to [your] people.”

Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.   Genesis 25:8   NIV

I am becoming more content with the inevitable conclusion of life and the aging process, too, although I experience the typical fears:

illness of body and mind, debilitating disease, loneliness, and ostensibly outliving my usefulness.  I need to remember this verse:

They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,

Psalm 92:14   NIV

The fruit may not be the same as it was when I was younger.  It may not be of the same quantity, but as long as the tree or vine is alive, it can still yield a crop.

Until then I will rest in the arms of the One who carries me and sustains me.  I will clutch these promises tight to my heart with age-spotted hands.  I will walk outside with wind-blown, white-shot hair and watch the sunsets and thank God for blessings without number.

And I will praise Him for the final rescue, the rescue from death, in the never-ending Longest Day that is yet to come.

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Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Psalm 46:4   NIV

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linking with Holley Gerth


Essential Fridays Linkup




linking with Essential Thing Devotions


Life at 60 mph


My trip to the mailbox to collect the day’s news and bills often resembles the meandering, crisscrossing trail of Billy in the Family Circus comic.

When I stroll down my driveway and across the road, it’s rarely the shortest distance between two points, and it’s certainly not the quickest.



Near the garage door I stop to admire the velvet petals and deep pink throats of the roses, and I breathe in the sweet fragrance.


As my booted feet crunch down the gravel driveway, I discover tiny flowers underfoot, thriving in the rocky soil.


I find common clover blossoms–some white, some pink-tinted–dotting the lawn.


I stray past the ash tree, sporting tender spring-blushed leaves.


Near the fence I hear grasses rustling in the breeze, pollen sent kite-flying down wind.


I stop to peer into red clover at the edge of the soybean field, and the blossom reveals a tiny, jeweled katydid nymph.

When I reach the ditch near our road, I see purple crown vetch leaning against stiff, grass stems, curling tendrils extended.




I cross the road to our mailbox, but I am distracted by bursts of color–wildflowers sprinkled like confetti on the grassy ditch bank.

I fold the letters and newspaper together, push the mailbox shut, and wait for traffic to clear before walking back across.  A semi-truck roars past at 60 miles per hour, stirring up a whirlwind of gravel dust.

The truck driver probably saw none of the wildflowers.  He (or she) may not have seen me.  How could he notice, when the next delivery beckons, when eyes are assessing the next curve of pavement?

Haven’t I lived my life this way at times, hurrying from work to home to activity to appointment, without any “white space,” without any margins?  When I live life in the fast lane, it may be quickest distance between two points, but I miss so much.

 “In our rushing, bulls in china shops, we break our own lives.”

Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

The “slow lane,” the leisurely stroll allows me to experience the details of the world and the life God has given me:  delicate flowers and painted insects, sighing grasses and crunching gravel, silky petals and even gritty dust.


for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.

Psalm 26:3   NIV

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  linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

  linking with Holley Gerth

  linking with Laura Boggess

Diane W. Bailey  linking with Diane Bailey


Feathers and Fathers

I need to type more carefully.  Not only do I have trouble reading accurately when I skim, I also type carelessly when I hurry.

I was searching for a particular verse on and entered “feathers” in the search box.  I was amazed at the number of entries until I realized that I had mistakenly typed “fathers” instead.

Still, there are several avian metaphors in the Bible that help us understand God’s love.  Our heavenly father is compared to a bird who protects his offspring under his feathers and a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings.

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When we, like frantically cheeping chicks, scramble to hide from danger, we can let God protect us and keep us safe.

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge

Psalm 91:4   NIV

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When we feel afraid, we can run to the Lord.  We can trust in his love and believe that he will provide generously for all our needs.

How exquisite your love, O God!
    How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread

Psalm 36:7,8   MSG

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When life is difficult, and we’re just waiting, trying to figure out what to do next, we can still rejoice.  We can sing!

Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.   Psalm 63:7   NIV

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When gut-twisting events and unanswered prayers steal our sleep,  we can remember how God has been faithful in the past.  We can rest in the soft, dark shadow of his presence and allow him to be El Roi–the God who sees.

I lie awake at night thinking of you—of how much you have helped me—and how I rejoice through the night beneath the protecting shadow of your wings.  

Psalm 63:6,7   TLB

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When we don’t deserve your forgiveness–again, when we’re old enough to know better, and when it seems the only good thing about us is you, Lord,  You still take us in.  You hold us close and warm, a mere breath away.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.

Psalm 57:1   NIV

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When the blackness that’s rooted in our the hearts pushes away your embrace, when we reject your gospel-good-news, you still love us–all the way to the cross.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Murderer of prophets! Killer of the ones who brought you God’s news! How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me.

Matthew 23:37   MSG

Here is the story of Liza (a silky Bantam chicken), the chicks collected beneath her wings, and her sacrificial encounter with a hawk.  Here is the gospel written in feathers.

Keep your eye on me;
    hide me under your cool wing feathers
From the wicked who are out to get me,
    from mortal enemies closing in.

Psalm 17:8   MSG

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all photos by Barb Briggs

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linking with Holley Gerth

linking with Laura Boggess

linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

Essential Fridays Linkup linking with Essential Thing Devotions


Words Like Rain

Water is life.  We could only survive a few days without drinking water, and, of course, crops must have water to live and grow. 

We have been blessed to have showers this week in my part of the Midwest, and now the rivers run full, and the thirsty corn and bean fields have soaked up the rain.

God has been good to provide for our need for water.


He covers the sky with clouds;

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he supplies the earth with rain


and makes grass grow on the hills.   Psalm 147:8   NIV


And who do you think is the father of rain and dew,
    the mother of ice and frost?
You don’t for a minute imagine
    these marvels of weather just happen, do you?

Job 38:28-30   MSG

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In Deuteronomy 32 we read that Moses knew he wasn’t going to live much longer and was getting his “affairs in order.”  He had written down the Law and had passed leadership to Joshua. Moses also wanted to teach a song to the children of Israel.

Despite the clear choice that had been put before Israel,

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life .  .  .    Deuteronomy 30:19, 20   NIV

Moses knew the people would stray.  He wanted them to learn the song by heart, so that when the day came that they turned away from God, the words of the song would be a witness against them.  It begins:

Listen, you heavens, and I will speak;
    hear, you earth, the words of my mouth.


Let my teaching fall like rain
    and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
    like abundant rain on tender plants.

Deuteronomy 32:1,2   NIV


To sum up Moses’ song (which continues through forty-three verses in chapter 32):

God is great.  God is good.  And you, Israel, are not.

I’m not.  We’re not.

Just as Moses knew Israel would turn away,  God knew we would stray, too, and sent Jesus because He loved us.

Water may be life, but Jesus is Life everlasting (John 11:25 and 14:6) and the Living Water (John 4:10).

Listen to His words–gentle, life-giving words–words like rain.


Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day,  .  .  .  They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.   Deuteronomy 32:46    NIV

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  linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

linking with Laura Boggess

Essential Fridays Linkuplinking with Essential Thing Devotions

linking with Holley Gerth

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