Humility Is A Gift

Today I’m writing over at Willowdale Women. If you are interested in my simple story about humility, go check it out at

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Belated Thoughts on a Lenten Poem



I read this poem during lent and kept going back to it.

The Feet of Judas 
by George Marion McClellan

CHRIST washed the feet of Judas!
The dark and evil passions of his soul,
His secret plot, and sordidness complete,
His hate, his purposing, Christ knew the whole,
And still in love he stooped and washed his feet.

Christ washed the feet of Judas!
Yet all his lurking sin was bare to him,
His bargain with the priest, and more than this,
In Olivet, beneath the moonlight dim,
Aforehand knew and felt his treacherous kiss.

Christ washed the feet of Judas!
And so ineffable his love ‘twas meet,
That pity fill his great forgiving heart,
And tenderly to wash the traitor’s feet,
Who in his Lord had basely sold his part.

Christ washed the feet of Judas!
And thus a girded servant, self-abased,
Taught that no wrong this side the gate of heaven
Was ever too great to wholly be effaced,
And though unasked, in spirit be forgiven.

And so if we have ever felt the wrong
Of trampled rights, of caste, it matters not,
What e’er the soul has felt or suffered long,
Oh, heart! This one thing should not be forgot:
Christ washed the feet of Judas.



I wonder.  Do you think Jesus understood sin?  Like he knew Judas was sin sick enough that it was just how it was going to be, but Jesus determined not to let that change who he would be?

Do you think he washed Judas’ feet because he so badly wished things would go down differently?  Like maybe if he washed Judas’ feet, then Judas would see that Jesus really did love him and be led to a different choice?  A kingdom choice of friendship and loyalty rather than one of personal financial gain and betrayal?

Do you think he looked ahead and saw Judas feeling sick to his stomach over his role in the whole thing, going to the only place he knew where to take his sin: the temple?  And Judas standing there with the money trying to spill out his sin to the priest.  Only to have the money thrown back in his face with, “That’s your problem!”  Do you think Jesus wanted to make that horrible moment just a shred easier for Judas?

Can you imagine the total lack of absolution, the overwhelming nature of holding your sin in your hands with no place to go?  Do you think Jesus saw all that and washed Judas’ feet hoping against hope that Judas would remember that act of love and be moved past regret to repentance?

Do you think Jesus wished he could pull Judas out just enough to prevent the coming suicide?

Do you think Jesus looked at Judas when he washed his feet?  Or that maybe he lingered there with Judas just a second longer than with the others?

Surely it wasn’t a rushed moment!  It doesn’t seem like Jesus did it begrudgingly.  Like he was washing everybody else’s feet, and because of social pressure, he had to include Judas.

How could Jesus wash Judas feet at all?

I’m just not that good.  I don’t have that kind of love inside me.


Posted in Theology | 6 Comments

Nature Photo Challenge Number 6

I’ve noticed this fat little bird lately.  Every afternoon she sits on the same branch of the holly bush near my front door.  She turned shyly away when I came close with my camera this afternoon.

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Nature Photo Challenge Number 5

Rich and I were walking in the Croatan National Forest last month when I watched this beautiful bird fishing in the meadow hay.  It waded in the grass amazingly slowly, but when a minnow came near, the bird struck with lighting speed and perfect accuracy.  During the half hour I watched the quest for food, I don’t think one strike missed it’s mark!  The Croatan National Forest boasts being the only truly coastal forest in the entire United States.  It is a gorgeous place!

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Nature Photo Challenge Number 4

This toad has chosen to make his home in my garden under the shade of my garlic plants.  Here he is peeking out of his little hole.


I took this picture, but credit goes to T for helping learn how to use the camera on my phone to get this shot.

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Sister Campout

One of the great advantages of our move to the Northeast is being close enough to meet up with family.  My two sisters and I decided to have a campout and bring our daughters on a pretty significant hike.


I picked out Sam’s Point at Minnewaska .  They have ice caves there!  How cool is that?  The trail has ladders and suspension bridges and cool rock formations.  I wanted to go.  I wanted to hang with my sisters and my niece in that beautiful place.

Alas!  Just days before our planned event, a forest fire burned two thousand acres and the park closed.  Part of the park did reopen, but not the ice caves and fun ladders, and who wants to hike through burnt out landscape?

Not to be defeated by a measly forest fire, we relocated our sister campout to  Phoenicia, the most centrally located place among the three sisters.  Phoenicia also happens to be where we grew up and where my Dad still lives.  It is a beautiful place – a kind of paradise.


We made reservations at Devil’s Tombstone.  My parents were excited we were doing this.  Dad contributed local firewood to our cause.  We roasted s’mores, laughed in the dark and listened to barred owls calling one another that first night.  Mom sent each girl a travel journal with visions of sketches and poetry by the side of the trail.


The next day, we headed out early under threat of rain.  We hiked the Indian Head Mountain/Twin Mountain trail – nearly nine miles of serious hiking fun with three summits.  This review of the trail says it is not for kids unless your kids are actual, literal mountain goats.  Bah!  Take your girls I say!!  Our girls had a blast.


At lower elevations the subtle woodland wildflowers delighted us.  There were red trilliums and painted trilliums, bobble bush and trout lilies, violets and dutchmen’s britches.


At higher elevations the views thrilled us.  We stood on rock ledges and gazed out.  We looked down on soaring birds.


One sister announced we could call her “Queena” while reclining on this rock throne.  We all burst into laughter at her inside childhood joke.


Our daughters skipped along this rock path …


and wedged themselves into this tight space.


Look at the leaves on this lovely bobble bush.  You see how they come out in pairs?  That’s how I want to explore the world – with a friend, or a sister, or a pair of sisters.


Have you been out investigating God’s big beautiful world with a sister recently?






Posted in Family Life, Nature | 2 Comments

Nature Photo Challenge Number 3

There’s been so much rain, you could almost never imagine I walked past this dried up pond in the field by my house a couple of weeks ago.  Among the cracks in the mud, I saw a variety of animal tracks.  One of the hundred million deer that live near us left these prints here.


As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. – Psalm 42:1

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Nature Photo Challenge Number 2


A couple of months ago geese were everywhere – in the cornfields and on every little pond.  There were literally thousands of them.  We apparently live in their migration path.  Most of them have moved on now, but a few stragglers remain.  I captured a photo of this fine fellow swimming in the water at Longwood Gardens.

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Nature Photo Challenge Number 1

My friend Debbie encouraged me to put up seven days of nature photographs.  I don’t know if I’ll do seven, but here’s one!


For as long as I can remember, this forget-me-not plant has lived at the place where the side stream runs into the main stream, just a piece up from where the big rock used to be.  If you are one of my brothers or sisters, that sentence has meaning for you, and you know exactly where I took this picture.  If not, you can just know this photo was taken in a place I often played as a girl.

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Beating The February Blues

My friend Annie has a plan for Beating the February Blues.   Aren’t you glad someone does?  Christmas and Valentine’s Day are both behind us,  but spring isn’t quite here yet.  When I run outside  I can tell it’s coming:  the geese are raising raising a ruckus and the world is dripping and flowing as twenty five inches of snow melts.  Still the days feel short and I have to be creative to keep my toes warm.  Thankfully some of Annie’s ideas have brightened our February.

Last night we had a February brightening activity of our own inspired by Compassion International.


We sponsor a child in Rwanda.  I write to her a few times a year, but for the most part I have not found it easy to engage our children in the work of Compassion.  They sort of vaguely know this girl is out there.

People who live below the poverty line have the worst of everything: medical care, education, food, housing.  Living in poverty says things to you.  Things like “You don’t deserve.”   “You don’t belong.”   “Your worth?  Ha!”  Poverty destroys you with a crushing hopelessness.

But, God loves poor people.  He wants us to reserve a little space in our brains to remember that not everyone has what we have.  At the very least we should be aware of contrasts like this:

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To help us be aware, I set out six plates with these five ingredients:
1. three graham crackers (one of them broken)
2. a smear of peanut butter
3. half a banana
4. a small chocolate bar
5. one fruit roll up ( my children were delighted I had purchased the ones with tongue tattoos- I didn’t even know that was a thing.  Did you?  Clearly they knew!)

I set the stage.  Pretend you live in the developing world in need of housing.  You can only build a home out of what you find because you don’t have any money to purchase building supplies, and besides, there is no local Lowe’s or Home Depot.  You have found some cardboard (the graham crackers), some mud (the peanut butter), a little tin (the banana) a couple of boards (the chocolate bar), and a glorious piece of plastic (the fruit roll up).  You now have two minutes to construct your home.  Go!


Well, maybe we should have given a little more than two minutes because several of us were still building when the timer went off.

We had some creative homes (and a delicious dessert)!  For years Rich has dreamed of an octagonal kitchen.  Why was I surprised at his hexagonal home?


This one was set in tin to help prevent earthquake damage.


This home included a plan for sewage in the basement.  Ummm…


How about this one, with wood flooring and tin gutters?


What would your home look like?

I hope you’ve found creative ways to beat the February Blues.  If you’d like more information about sponsoring a child through Compassion International, click here.


Posted in Family Life, Food, Making Things, Theology | 2 Comments