Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coming Behind, Gone Before

Today is a day of joy and of reflection for me - so many thoughts -
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. Psalm 16:6
Today was a day that brought back many memories and thoughts of ancestors and heritage and God's faithfulness. Today our oldest son, Anthony, made public profession of his Christian faith in front of our church congregation.As I sat there witnessing his profession it seemed to me like his baptism had been only weeks ago! It was a powerful thing to see the promise of baptism blossom.Then I thought back further than his baptism. I thought back to the generations that have gone before him on both sides of both sides of his family. It made me think of a cord that has been being woven together for centuries that is stitched through the fabric of our lives -- through the fabric of Anthony's life.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Psalm 90:1
On my side of the family he has Dutch Protestant and Portuguese Catholic heritage going back for a very long time.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home!

O God, die droeg onsvoorgeslacht
In nacht en storm gebruis,
Bewijs ook ons Uw trouw en macht,
Wees eeuwig ons tehuis!

On the Dutch side, his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, living in Groningen in the Netherlands, braved financial hardship and political danger, risking his own life and that of his son, to follow his faith. He sent his son Wibbo Hommens (aka Homerus Wigboldus)to Heidelberg University in 1593 to learn the Calvinistic teaching and become a minister. This was at a time when the current Spanish governor was taking over cities in the area and persecuting protestants - a time in which several ministers, members of the nobility and others in positions of influence in Groningen were forced to flee and live for some time in another country. Below is the ministerial stamp of Homerus Wigboldus made in 1601 when he began his ministry in Midwolde, Netherlands.On the Portuguese side too stories of faith have been handed down. Anthony's great-great grandparents came from the Azore Islands to California. They immigrated before the Panama Canal was built (before 1914). As they came around Cape Horn there was a terrible storm, a storm so fierce that it broke the mast of the ship. There was great fear that the ship would sink. Anna and Manuel prayed and made a "promesa" to God that if He spared them and brought them to California that once they were established they would return to their village on the island of Terceira and feed all the people of the village. God did protect their lives and bring them safely to California, and they fulfilled their promesa, returning to their village in early 1930.

Their faith heritage has continued and is embraced in the current generation as well:On Anthony's dad's side of the family there is a reunion every three years for all the descendants of his great-great-great grandparents. The theme of the reunion is always "Find Us Faithful," a song which was sung during the service today in honor of that heritage.The theme comes from the song whose chorus is:

May the ones who come behind us find us faithful;
May the fire of our devotion light their way;
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.

Here is a picture of our branch of the family from the reunion in 1998:

In 2007 the reunion took place on what would have been Anthony's great-great-great grandpa's 125th birthday, so we had a 125th birthday cake!
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us... Hebrews 12:1
At Anthony's profession today I could not help thinking of the great cloud of witnesses he is surrounded by who are cheering him on and who have laid a foundation for him that stretches back generations and centuries. It is like a thread spun together over those centuries that stitches our lives together today and ties us together with the past and the future - and most of all with our faithful God of all our generations.

O God, die droeg ons voorgeslacht
In tegen spoed en kruis,
Wees ons een gids in storm en nacht
Een eeuwig ons tehuis!

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
be thou our guard while troubles last,
and our eternal home!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


"When time from time shall set me free."

- e.e. cummings

Monday, December 22, 2008

Charlie Brown and the Meaning of Christmas

Ahhhh...memories of childhood! :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroyed,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete;

That not a worm is cloven in vain;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivelled in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another's gain.

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last—far off—at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Friday, December 12, 2008

In a Fog

Fog is my favorite weather. I couldn't resist getting outside and going for a walk in it.The white background makes such a nice canvas for color! I can't wait until our oranges are ready - any day now!Technically it is still autumn, at least for another week or so . . . . . . but the buds on this tree make it seem like spring already wants to make an appearance!I feel very cozy when walking in the fog.Can you find the sun in the picture below? (It is right in the center.)One last splash of color from this foggy day:

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Leave to Wonder

A god and yet a man?
A maid and yet a mother?
Wit wonders what wit can
Conceive this or the other.

A god and can he die?
A dead man, can he live?
What wit can well reply?
What reason reason give?

God, truth itself, doth teach it.
Man's wit sinks too far under
By reason's power to reach it.
Believe and leave to wonder.

-- Anonymous (15th Century)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Face of God

"In 1741, Handel composed Messiah and what we know now as the Hallelujah Chorus. While designing and composing Messiah, Handel was in debt and deeply depressed; however, the masterpiece was completed in a mere 24 days. Despite his mental and financial state, the Hallelujah Chorus’s birth story is a glorious one. After Handel’s assistant called for him for a few moments, the assistant went to Handel’s work area because he received no response from Handel. Upon entering the room, the assistant saw tears emerge from Handel’s eyes. When the assistant asked why Handel was crying, Handel proclaimed, 'I have seen the face of God,' while lifting up the composition of the Hallelujah Chorus . . ." (Story of the Hallelujah Chorus)

I have read elsewhere that Handel had visions and angel visitations when writing Messiah. After having sung it again today, I am not surprised at all. It is while singing Messiah that I too, more than at any other time, see the face of God. I was struck today that although Handel died more than 2 centuries ago, his work is as alive today as ever; to sing it feels to me almost like transcending time. As with every year, this day is truly Christmas Day for me.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Age and Wisdom

The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.

Jean Paul (1763-1825)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Virtual Visit

I find watching water to be very relaxing, so I took this little clip while we were in Pismo so I can watch the ocean (virtually) anytime I want.
Come join me on the beach!!