The Inspired Life of a Homeschool Mom

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The other morning I got up early…well, earlier than everyone else anyway. It was the weekend so Dad was home. It had rained during the night. Really rained so that when I sat out on the porch with my coffee I could breathe in the wet earthy air. After living in the Pacific Northwest for sixteen years I grew to love the rain. I miss it here on the prairie. During the sparkly whiteness of the prairie winter I longed for the gray, cozy Washington winter.

I decided to go for a walk, enjoying the cool grayness. As I walked I thought about how we have lived in the Midwest for a year now. Moving is really hard, at least it was for me. Adjusting to everything being so different, the missing places in my heart where my friends should be. I left behind a life that I loved, fighting resentment, accepting what is. It hasn’t been easy. Grieving the loss of a baby. Sometimes it felt like my heart had grown flat. On auto pilot, trying to live from one day to the next.

As I walked I prayed and thought, along the fields, soy beans, corn, a gravel road. This is my life now. Cows stopped their grazing to look at me. I like them and I say,”Hi, good morning, cows.” They look at me with peaceful eyes, go back to their grass. Milk weed flowers grow in the ditches. They have a wonderful fragrance that wafts out to me in the mist. I pick some so I can hold it my nose and smell it as I go, letting the sticky milk drip onto my wrist. I think how we will be able now to hatch Monarch Butterflies in jars like I did when I was a girl. Year after year my siblings and I lined the pantry window sill with jars. We never tired of watching the life cycle of the beautiful butterfly. We always released them with a sort of hushed awe into my mom’s flower beds.

By the time I turn back the sun is burning away the mist. I can still see our place , even though I’m a good couple miles away. Distance is deceiving here.  You know they say where ever you go there you are? Well, I knew then that it’s true. I am still here. The inspired life that I want to live, full of poetry, music, art, good and beautiful things. Lofty aspirations of educating my children, capturing their hearts and souls. Those things can still be mine. My heart fills with praise because I know it’s true, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can be happy here just as well as there. I will grow here and flourish, I will live the inspired life of a homeschool mom.

And once I am being carried on the wings of inspiration, I know wonderful things will happen! I am planning a literature based study of The United States for this coming year. Not so much the ordinary history stuff but a study of the regions and people and geography. I am thinking of books that capture the hearts of the people that make the deep south, New England, the rugged cowboyness of the Southwest, the amazing, strong women who somehow still laughed and loved and accepted the wind and sod houses on the prairie….. it’s going to be good. We’ll do regional cooking and take field trips in our minds. We’ll make a huge map and a time line. We’ll live through the dust bowl and join the gold rush. We’ll slip away with the runaway slaves, following the drinking gourd.

I have a feeling it’ll be another good year this year. Please, if anything cool came to mind while reading this leave me a comment. The plans are still forming in my mind so I am definitely open to suggestions!

“Make yourselves nests of pleasant thoughts, bright fancies, faithful sayings; treasure houses of precious and restful thoughts, which care cannot disturb nor poverty take away from you, houses built without hands for your souls to live in.” John Ruskin

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Pink~ It’s the New Black


She came into the world with scarcely a ruffle. Serene and beautiful was her birth. She was immediately enveloped in love by her Daddy and me and by her two young adult cousins, who were present at the birth. We named her Meredith Pearl, our sixth child. She was born at home, and I shall never forget those sweet honeymoon days after her birth, the spring sunshine flooding in our bedroom windows, a house full of love, visitors, and happiness because a child had brought into the world!

And, so her life has followed suit, she is sweet and gentle.  She doesn’t mind playing by herself. Quietly, she will busily play with her dollies. Many times we have suddenly said,”Where is Meredee?” Only to find her happily playing with her doll on the stairwell or in her bedroom.

Blue eyes is pretty sure that she will be a writer when she is older. She has a wonderful, pleasant imagination. One day, not long ago, the older kids and I were busy with school studies and she popped in the living room to announce that she was going swimming. It was a warm, sunny day, she got on her swim suit and went on the front porch, which was her pool, and had a lovely swim. We stopped what we were doing to watch through the window. With a huge smile on her face, her arms paddling round and round, she “swam” all about the porch, laughing with delight. Oh, we laughed until we nearly cried watching her! I’m sure she had just as much fun as if she actually were swimming! Of course, we all had to smoother her with smooches and hugs and tell her how adorable she was!

A couple weeks ago she told us, “My birthday is coming up, and after I turn four I don’t want you guys calling me cute anymore!” Almost every night she climbs into our bed, she dives right in the middle and burrows down under the covers, curls up by Daddy and goes back to sleep. Sometimes, she doesn’t even bother to start out in her own room. She just climbs in after prayers and says, “I want to sleep by you, Daddy!” Usually we just look at each other and say,”O, you’re only little once. Why not?”

She LOVES, LOVES, LOVES pink! She saw some sparkly pink skinny jeans at Wal Mart and really wanted them. (They were on clearance for $3, so it was her lucky day!) Bright pink boots at Good Will, had to have them! Her older sister told me that if she were the mom, she would not let her child wear those boots, especially to church! But you know what? You’re only four once. To her, if it’s pink, it’s beautiful and it matches- anything! (Besides, I had to remind her sister that when she was about this age, she wore bright pink rubber boots, everywhere! And a pair of snazzy pink sunglasses, even to church.)

When I was pregnant with her little sister Lucy, I ended up having to be on bed rest for the last six weeks. To pass the time, I made an online scrapbook/baby book for her. She loves to take it off the shelf, cuddle up by one of us and have us read it to her. It begins with my thoughts and prayers while I was pregnant with her, includes her birth story and ends at her first birthday. “See how cute I was?” She’ll say. “You guys loved me soo much!”

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And still we do, little Meredee! Truly, you have been a gift to us from the Lord! “An heritage of the Lord” just like the Bible says! A preacher from our church once told us that he had done a word study on this verse.  He said the word heritage here means an heirloom, something valuable and precious to be passed from one generation to the next. Isn’t that beautiful and fitting?

May He help us, each day, to live in His wisdom and grace, so that we may carefully care for this precious heirloom of the Lord!

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                            “The Lord has blessed thee, thou hast grown.                                                   What seeds of love thy life has sown!”

April is Sexual Abuse Awareness Month; Together We Can Make the World a Safer Place



April is Sexual Abuse Awareness month.

Childhood sexual abuse is real.

 It happens and without healing it has the potential to leave emotional and spiritual scars that can last a lifetime.

One out of four women is a survivor. That’s someone you know. That’s someone you love.

Innocence lost. Trust shattered.

Happiness and hope replaced by shame and self hatred.

Don’t let this be your daughter. Or your son.

Know the facts. Be informed. Talk to your kids.

I know, it’s uncomfortable. We’d all rather pretend it doesn’t happen.

But it does.

Childhood sexual abuse is real and it happens.

Suffering through a few uncomfortable conversations with your kids is  nothing compared to what it could prevent.

Being stretched beyond your comfort zone is part of the mom package. Remember labor?

If you won’t get the facts and protect your kids, who will?

Be committed to watching your kids like a hawk.

Most perpetrators are male relatives.

Be alert.

Never put your kids in risky situations. Listen to your kids.

They may not be able to articulate why uncle “so and so” is scary or gives them the creeps but that’s okay.

Respect what they are saying.

Never doubt your mother intuition.

If someone makes you uncomfortable, trust your gut feeling.

Go with it.

Remember you don’t need to explain anything to anyone. You only need to answer to God.

Be known as a mama bear when it comes to protecting your kids.

Most childhood sexual abuse happens between the ages of six and eleven.

Do your kids really need to be having sleep overs and spending much time with other adults without you before then anyway?

You think something like that would never happen in your family?

You’re sure you don’t know or associate with any pedophiles or other kids who are being or have been abused?

One out of every four.

That’s across all demographics and includes religious and nonreligious families.

We are raising up the next generation.

Be brave.

Be committed with me.


One parent at a time.


Let’s not let that statistic rise on our watch.

Childhood sexual abuse. It happens.

By being vigilant and proactive we can make the world a safer place.

Be brave.

Please feel free to share this post on your social networks. The first step towards prevention is awareness

Let Me Be a Mom Who Prays

blog 039Years ago when I was a new mom, my Grandmother gave me a book that she said she had enjoyed once upon a time herself. It was printed in 1957 and it has a charming vintage feel about it that I love. Back when life seemed less complex. When it was a given that moms were at home being housewives and raising up the next generation. When fathers provided for their families and a woman endeavored to make her home a haven of rest and comfort for her hardworking man.

The book is held together now by a headband(?!) Don’t ask……it must have been what was handy one night when the binding first started falling apart. I keep it in a vintage suitcase with some other meaningful letters, poems and writings pertaining to motherhood that I have received over the years. Many of them from my same dear Grandmother. I keep the suitcase beside my bed and sometimes when everybody’s tucked in and Blue eyes falls asleep before me and I am not quite feeling sleepy yet I dig around in my “mama encouragement box” for something nice to read.

Several times through out the years when I have been in the mood for something light and encouraging I have picked up this book. I still love it just as much as I did the first time I read it. I wanted to share with you some of what I read last night. It made my eyes fill with tears and my heart swell with inspiration and I fell asleep praying for the precious hardworking man sound asleep beside me and all the babies that the Lord has given to us.

A Mother’s Wages

by Elizabeth Walker Strachan

A Moody Press Publication 1957

Chapter 3: Prayer

“The truly wealthy children, the children to be envied, are those born to praying parents. Even the wisest do not fully understand prayer and all that it does. But one of the many remarkable things about prayer is that those who pray the most are those most convinced of its great potential. ……….And in spite of perplexing times, those who have prayed know that God does answer prayer, and there is a vast difference in prayed-for children and those of nonpraying parents. Prayer prepares a child’s heart for early conversion. Prayer can solve the many difficult problems of child rearing. Prayer enriches every single phase of a child’s life. Prayer brings our children that “blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich and He addeth no sorrow with it.” (Psalm 10:23)

“When should a mother pray? Before the birth of her child until her last breath is spent she should be holding that child before God for His blessing.  However else we may fail our children, may God help us not to fail them in prayer. May He make us women of prayer.”

I woke up still thinking about it this morning. (A little side note: I am getting ready to bring home two dairy goats! I am super excited! Before he fell asleep last night Blue eyes told me that he was sure I would be dreaming of goats and he was right! So after I wiped the cobwebs of dreamy goats who were playing on fancy wooden play structures (thanks to all those dear little goat pins I was pinning on pintrest last night!;) from my mind, I was still thinking about it.)

I was reminded of Job, the Bible tells us that he daily made supplication and offered sacrifices for each of his children “for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” (Job 1:5) I thought of how we are exhorted to pray continually and without ceasing. I thought of my own prayerful Grandparents and the many ways their prayers have blessed my life.

Let us, Lord, be mamas who pray!

“If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14

A Hello and Goodbye to My Baby Love (A Mother’s Heart After a Miscarriage)

ImageTo my dear baby,

One night in wintry December you were conceived, in the beautiful love that can only take place in a romance that has weathered years of joys and sorrow. A romance that has ripened and matured until the two lovers are truly one and as comfortable with one another as they are in their own skin.

My first Midwestern winter seemed hostile and strange.  My heart has ached for old friends and the life I had before we moved here. When the wintry days got long, too blizzardy and cold to go out I would think about you. I would think about growing round and heavy with child in the sultry days of summer. I would think about the miracle of birth and the sleepy, content feeling of holding my newly born babe to my breast. And I loved you.

We kept our secret as long as we could. My daily afternoon naps and hormonal emotions were giving it away though. I could tell that your two oldest sisters were figuring things out!

Finally we decided to share our exciting news with your brothers and sisters. They were, of course, all excited and, yup, the girls had guessed! Your due date was the day before Isaac’s eleventh birthday and eight days before Moses’s ninth birthday. Since dad’s birthday is also in September they figured for sure they would be getting a brother for their birthday! It was about time, they were thinking, since they already have five sisters!

After a couple weeks we told them they could tell their friends. They all had someone they were waiting to tell. Letters of glad tidings flew off to Grannie and aunties and pen-pals.  Almost every day Olivia wrote in her journal in her newly developed six year old hand writing, ” I can’t wait until our new baby is born!”

Isabelle knit you a hat. They made you a Valentines Day card and they prayed for you every single day. They nicknamed you “Cute-cumber.” ( All except Meredith who would furrow her brow and say, “We are not naming our new baby cucumber!”) She thought a new sister named Sabrina would be perfect!

And so the first trimester was drawing to a close. One day as I was leaving for tea with a friend I noticed some spotting. I was a little worried but knew some light spotting in pregnancy is usually fine so I reassured myself and continued on with my day. Still, later I called the midwife and scheduled an appointment for the next day just to be sure.

She said my uterus was definitely full and pregnant but she wasn’t able to find a heartbeat. I so desperately wanted  to hear your little heart beating! I so wanted you to be in there and be OK! Still she said that she couldn’t say for sure there was no life there without an ultrasound so I was not completely without hope.

With heavy hearts we left, not wanting to say anything to the other kids just yet, hoping it would be alright after all. But alas, during the night I went into labor. I didn’t know it would be like that. My body did not want to let you go but, I knew I must, that I could not fight against the creator of life.

The next day Daddy stayed home. With heavy hearts we ate our breakfast then gathered the kids around us. We told them that we had some sad news. Our baby had died and I had gone into labor during the night. I wasn’t pregnant any more and there would be no new baby in September after all.

Sweet baby, had God willed that you grew and lived there would have been a wonderful place for you in our family. You already had a place! We would have loved you and cherished you as an heritage of  the Lord. We would have showered you with kisses and you would have been snuggled close to someones heart all day.

Just like we did with Meredith and Lucille when they were babies, we would have set the timer so no one hogged you. (Except me, I have hogging rights.) But the rest fair and square, thirty minute turns to lavish you with their love. And you would have blossomed and flourished and been happy here. That was what we wanted but God had something better in mind.

The Proverb says “That hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” We are heart sick. We miss you. Lots of other families in our church community are expecting babies in August and September.I think I will miss you then. Perhaps God will give us a new baby to fill my womb and heart and thoughts but it will not be you. A few short months of existence, a small place in my womb but I will always carry you in my heart.

 Last night we all sat down to sing. We started with ” My Shepherd Will Supply My Needs, Jehovah is His Name”. The second verse says, “When I walk through the shades of death, His presence is my stay. One word of His supporting grace drives all my fears away. His hand in sight of all my foes doth still my table spread, My cup with blessings overflows, His oil anoints my head.” (Isaac Watts)

I love this song! It is so gentle and soothing. At first we were all choosing songs of comfort but then they changed to songs of praise. One by one your siblings took turns coming to sit by Daddy or me and weeping. But they kept on choosing songs so we kept singing.

I told them something I had read before. That our lives are like a tapestry that is being woven by God. When we are here on earth we can only see the back of the tapestry and sometimes we can not make out the design. But we must never doubt that God is good even in sorrow for some day we will see the beautifully completed tapestry. And there you will be, baby, a beautiful and bright part of the tapestry of my life.

I know in heaven, in the Kingdom of Love, you have perfect understanding. You would say, “Of course God is good, Mom!” But last night despite my weary, faltering steps I was able to truly believe that He IS good! BY faith I was able to see that “though weeping may endure for a night joy cometh in the morning.” I know that He WILL “turn our mourning into dancing and exchange my spirit of heaviness for garments of praise.”

And so, my darling baby, I loved you in our hello and I love you even more in our good bye. In the spring we will bury your remains under the lilacs. We will love you and miss you then. Even though you have been the secret happy thought of my heart this long, lonely winter it’s Ok to let you go because truly His presence is my stay. The sun will grow warm again, the lilacs will fill the yard with their fragrance and still God will my table spread. Can you imagine, darling baby, that my cup of blessing overflows and His oil anoints my head? All of my love, dear baby. Good bye for now.



“Of a Small Daughter Walking Outdoors”


Of a Small Daughter Walking Outdoors

Frances M. Frost

Easy, wind!

Go softly here!

She is small

And very dear.

She is young

And cannot say

Words to chase

The wind away.

She is new

To walking, so

Wind, be kind

And gently blow

On her ruffled head,

On grass and clover.

Easy, wind…

She’ll tumble over!

ImageWhere has the time gone? It hardly seems that a year has passed since my sweet baby Lucy’s amazing, powerful birth, and here she is walking about, talking, giving kisses to the little stuffed dog she carries around with her.

How I thank the Lord for a little hand to hold, a sleepy nursing baby by my side all night. A tousled head and baby kisses in the morning, for brown eyes and baby talkin’, for sleepy Daddy voices singing love songs in the dark.

How I thank Him for these “golden years” of my life! When I am “Mama” and the treasure of my heart fits securely in my lap, smiling and beautiful.

There is Peace in the Midst of the Storm….

And so after roaming about like a gypsy………oh, so fun! and more about that later……….we are home. Home, where there are four walls around you and you can shut out the rest of the world, put your feet up and just be. I told my kids today home is not the structure we call our house, it is where love creates a haven from the world, home is where they are.

Of all the cool and amazing things we experienced on our trip everything dulls in comparison to the tornado. That’s right, we met up with a real life  twister. Coming right towards us across the field as we chugged along in our old van. And I would love to tell Christina Rossetti that I have indeed seen the wind.

My husband’s family was hosting a reunion at a camp ground near his home town in eastern South Dakota. After three days of swimming, horse back riding and cousins galore we were packing everything up when we heard that a severe storm and possibly a tornado was coming our way. We threw the last of our stuff haphazardly into the vehicles, rounded up the kids and headed out.

We were lagging behind because we went back to the camp ground to get a wicker chair that had been brought for rocking my sweet new born niece and been left behind. As we set out towards my in laws we could see the storm black and brewing on the sky line. Blue eyes thought we had plenty of time to cut across the storm before it reached us. We weren’t too worried, they have tornado and thunder storm warnings quite often. I was thinking it would be pretty cool for the kids to get to experience a good mid western storm and the van would be a safe place to be during a thunder storm.

We had the radio on to listen to the storm reports. They were telling people in certain areas to get into their basements or to emergency shelters. They said they were getting reports of golf ball sized hail and that a semi truck  had been blown right over.

Our plan would have worked except that the tornado had split into three and we missed our road. As we turned back towards his parents the storm appeared to be right at our side. Everything was strangely still and we saw animals gathered in dips in the fields. Then to our alarm we actually saw a tornado. It looked just like in the pictures, big and dark on the top with a tail low to the ground trailing along behind it.

Within minutes it started to get really dark and eerie looking, rain started to fall. The air felt oppressive and broody. I asked Blue eyes three times in the next minutes if this was normal and if he had seen other storms like this. He reassured me that he had seen a lot of storms. It wasn’t until later when we were safe that he told me he had never seen a storm quite like this one.

Then all of the sudden the fury of the storm was upon us. It got almost as black as night and we could see the wind. It was like huge waves billowing across the prairie. The rain was beating against us. Our whole van was rocking back and forth, even though the windows were shut the rain was streaming in onto the kids. Willy was whining and growling and the kids were screaming.

I just lost it, it was as if I had not a grain of faith. For a few horrible minutes I was completely overcome with fear. I kept saying over and over again that I was so afraid. My body felt like melted wax. We didn’t know what to do. There were no houses anywhere. Blue eyes decided that as long as he could see the road he would try to keep going. He told me later that some of the time he had the brake on and our fifteen passenger van was being pushed along in the wind. He told me I had to get control of myself  and talk to the kids. He reminded me that God with us.

As soon as I turned around and saw all the dear little faces of my children, white and terrified, I was able to pull myself together. Our five year old daughter was saying,”I just want to go to heaven and be with Jesus! I’m so scared, I just want to be with Jesus!” I thought Wow! The faith of a child…here I am afraid we might die and she is wishing to be with Jesus!

Several years ago a family from our church was in a terrible car accident. Both of the parents and five of the nine children were killed. I thought of them at that moment. I thought all or some of our lives could be taken today. Here we are all together and what do I have to offer my kids? I thought if today I should stand before the Holy God would I be ready?

I began to examine my heart and saw really quick that my own righteousness was off by a long shot but just when I started to doubt the Spirit reminded me that there is a Good Shepherd who has given his life for his sheep. I thought, “Yup, that’s what it’s all about. My faith is real and my Savior is real and there is peace in the midst of the storm.”

Just like little Much afraid in the story when I called for the good Shepherd there he was. I told the kids, “Remember in the Bible when Jesus was with the disciples and there was that awful storm and the disciples were so afraid?  Remember Jesus said to the wind “Peace! Be still!” and it was still?” (Mk 4:39)

Just as I told them that there was a few seconds lull in the wind. All their little faces relaxed and they started smiling and saying to each other, “He is with us! Jesus is here!”

I told them this is what it’s all about. This is why we believe because “whether we live or die we are the Lord’s” ( Romans 14:8).  I asked them if they were ok. If they knew in their hearts that Jesus had died for their sins and in turn each of them said, yes, they believed.

I asked them if they wanted to sing.

Almost every night at their request one of us sings  “the shepherd song” to our little girls. I think they like this song so much because we have read the book Hinds Feet on High Places a couple times aloud.  That book really made an impression on my kids and we refer to Much Afraid a lot.

Also we recently were able to baby sit our friend’s baby goat, who my son told me was a “Wilbur”( his way of saying a runt). My kids loved that little goat so much! I let it sleep in their room during the night so they could wake up to give it it’s bottle and in the morning they told me that they “lullabyed ” it to sleep.

Because of that experience we are currently reading The Tangled Woods Secrets by Patricia St.John. A beautiful story about a little girl who meets a real life shepherd who helps her know the Good Shepherd.  My kids really get the shepherd analogy that is used so often in God’s word. It comforts them to know that they are God’s little lambs and they relate to Jesus as a shepherd.

We all know “the shepherd song” by heart and as our van was pitching in the wind and tree branches and things were whipping by our windows we sang, really loud.

“There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold but one was out in the hills away far off from the gates of gold. Away on the mountains, wild and bare, away from the tender shepherd’s care, away from the tender shepherd’s care.

Lord, thou hast here thy ninety and nine, are they not enough for thee? But the shepherd made answer this of mine has wandered away from me and although the road be rough bad steep I go to the desert to find my sheep,  I go to the desert to find my sheep.

But none of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through ere he found his sheep that was lost. Out in the desert he heard it’s cry, sick and helpless and ready to die, sick and helpless and ready to die.

“Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way that mark out the mountains path?” “They were shed for one who had gone astray ere the shepherd could bring him back.” “Lord, whence are thy hands so rent and torn?” “They are pierced tonight by many a thorn, they are pierced to night by many a thorn.”

But all through the mountains thunder riven and up from the rocky steep there arose a glad cry to the gate of heaven, Rejoice I have found my sheep! And the angels echoed around the throne, Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own! Rejoice for the Lord brings back his own!”

Written by Elizabeth C. Clephane

You know, as we sang that song I thought, I cannot pray that God will spare our lives. It says in the Bible that our days are numbered before we are even born. I only want the Lord to be with us. I would never want to be outside of his perfect will “and though He slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15). “Because His loving kindness is BETTER than life my lips will praise Him” (Psalm 63:3). And, of course, He was with us. Later on one of the girls said to me,” Mom, how could anyone ever turn away from God after something like that because now we know he is REAL!”

Finally we made it to a gas station and parked with the wind at our rear. We told the kids to stay buckled up in case the van was thrown. Right across the road a full grown pine tree was completely uprooted and tossed down. Other huge trees were snapped in half. The roof of the bowling alley was blown off. Sections of chain link fencing was blown flat down to the ground.

Most of my husband’s family made it safely over to his parents before the storm hit but one of my sister in laws was also caught in the storm not far from where we were. She and her husband had driven separate rigs so he made it but she was alone with their seven little kids. They ended up taking shelter in someone’s garage. She put bicycle helmets on the kids and left a note telling the owner that they had been there.

Another one of my sister in laws climbed into a country church through a window with a little niece.

Then as quickly as it had come the storm was over. The temperature went from 90 something down to 65 in the space of a couple hours. The next day my kids found 12 birds nests on the ground, many with broken eggs inside. My son told me he was surprised that the birds were still singing. But like my heart they go on singing, maybe like Elijah they saw that God was not in the “great and strong wind, that rent the mountains and brake in pieces the  rocks” (1 Kings 19:11). Maybe they heard the still small voice that says “peace, peace to those who are near and to those who are afar off”.

“Hearken friends, and e’er remember, faithful is thy Lord to thee. Gave His life this Shepherd tender, now His sheep are blessed and free.” blog 110