Friday, April 28, 2017


"All these died in faith without receiving the promises,
but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance,
and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth..."

I'm going to go on a small detour on this verse.  We're going on a three-day weekend to a Civil War Reenactment with our fifteen year old.  I'll be back next week with my regular posts, but I'm just pondering this, strangers and exiles on the earth concept as it conforms with mental health.

We fost-adopted three children, and this son is our youngest, the only one still at home.  He was seventeen months old when we got him, the poor little emaciated thing.  He had been abused by neglect, starved, and possibly worse.  He was raised up to this point in a violent home and foster homes, going back and forth to his bio-parents.  He is one-fourth Maidu Indian and is a tribal member.  He is man-sized now. 

He began his visits to Mental Health I think when he was about four for mainly what was called Oppositional-Defiant Disorder.  When a child is bathed in adrenaline in the womb and in their earliest experience when confronted with danger, their brains become wired to confront life this way sometimes.  His answer, "No," went beyond the normal toddler response.  I always said that if we said, "We're going to Disneyland!"  he would say, "NO!"  Sure enough.  He has been on meds for this ever since, though his diagnosis has changed to Mood Disorder since teens are not labeled ODD at that age anymore.   With his meds, he is a sweetheart and no one can imagine him being otherwise.  However, if he forgets his dosage, he refuses to take his meds and is oppositional to everything more than a normal teen thing. 

His brother was finally diagnosed with Bi-polar.  We had to place him in a group home as we were unable to keep him safe from himself--self-harming--and from bullying his brother.  They have a love-hate relationship that is unhealthy.  Now his brother is home, is on SSI and we are supporting his independence, living in his own apartment, his launch into manhood at nineteen.

But back to being strangers and exiles on earth, this is especially true when mental illness exists.  The mind cannot cope with life as it is and seeks an escape sometimes.  Life is hard and especially hard when robbed of coping skills and abilities.

Our fifteen year old is coming to grips with the fact that he cannot serve in the military, his dream, because he is on meds.  He is flunking P.E. while feeling shamed.  School is challenging.  Having his brother back in town has a yo-yo effect on his emotions.  Then there are the neighborhood bullies who have been threatening him at school and here in the neighborhood for a couple of years.  He is bigger and stronger than any of them, but that doesn't lesson the threat to him.  So far he has not responded with violence, which we've told him, and the sheriff's have told him, is in his rights for self-protection.

We've had to call the sheriffs I think about five-times since December due to these bullies jumping Hank's friends while he has been there.  His school is aware that a big guy came from off-campus and threatened him one lunch period while eating outside.  Up until last week, though Hank witnessed the violence--even when one of the aggressors mother's joined in punching his friends--Hank was frozen on the sidelines. 

Hank called 911 last week because three kids tried stealing his friend's basketball and skateboard at the park (where he is not allowed to go, but went and joined his friend on the basketball court a block away from our house), and he was attacked, punched in the jaw, tripped and pushed, falling down and hitting his head on the cement.   The only thing we can figure is that this is because Hank reported as a good citizen a couple of these kids smoking pot at the school bus stop last year.  They were expelled and figured out who it was who reported them.

Their Oma

We have begun the process of filing restraining orders, but it may cost up to $435 each filing, we're not sure.  We are waiting for copies of the sheriff's office's incident reports.  We haven't decided if we will file an assault charge or not yet.  We have three or four names now.  In the meanwhile, it sent Hank on a tail-spin.

He is not coping.  He asked for his dad to come pick him up from high school "to talk."  He was shaking and sweating and thinking of hurting himself.  My husband took him to the Mental Health Crisis facility, and I joined him there.  Another stress point was that he said his health class was going to discuss suicide and self-cutting, and he didn't want to attend.  The health class has already been stressful with the libs agenda of sex-ed forced on him. 

We are supporting his participation in this weekend as an outlet for his avid interest in history, especially war history.  One day he wishes he could visit Normandy.  He watches You-tube videos on military history.  After all, isn't war a reminder that we are strangers and exiles on this earth fighting for a place to find peace?  He proudly wears the uniform of the Union.  We are taking him out of one day of school, which will count against him since he has already missed so much school, but we are allowing him to participate in an educational program for five to seven hundred school kids in Red Bluff Friday. 

So this is our struggle while being strangers and exiles on this earth.  It is just harder for some than others, those who are more stranger-ish and exile-ish than others.  We just can't avoid all troubles here below.  How is your stranger-exile living going?  Are you coping?  I will revisit other perspectives on this verse later, or maybe not.  But sometimes we are where we are.  I confess, this is where we are right now, strangering and exiling looking at what is in the distance and longing for what has been promised.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

HEBREWS 11:1-12

"By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive,
even beyond the proper time of life,
since she considered Him faithful who had promised.
Therefore there was born even of one man,
and him as good as dead at that,
as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number,
and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore."

Oh my goodness, Sarah!  I secretly like Sarah because when the angel told Abraham she was going to have a baby, she laughed.  "Sarah laughed to herself, saying, 'After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?' And the Lord said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child when I am so old?'  Is anything too difficult for the Lord?"  Indeed, the first time God told Abram, he laughed too. "Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, 'Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old?   And will Sarah who is ninety years old, bear a child?"  But back to when Sarah laughed, the angel (also called the Lord) said, "You laughed," but she said, "I did not laugh." "No, but you did laugh."  But hers was the laugh heard 'round the world.  (excerpts from Genesis 17-18)

With the prophecy to the two old people, God gave new names.  Abram was turned to Abraham which meant "father of a multitude."  Sarai became Sarah meaning, "princess."  How 'bout that!
But their child Isaac meant "laughter," named as such by God Himself, who must have had a chuckle in His own heart. 

But in Hebrews, Sarah is in the hall of fame for her faith.  What?  I thought she didn't believe it could happen, that this was a laughable promise that she didn't think was possible.  But then in the privacy of their tent that night there must have been an intimate conversation, "Do you want to try?"  "Sure, if you want to."  Whahht!  That moment in the secrecy of their tent staked in the sand, faith bloomed in the beauty of the night with the stars bearing witness, the stars that would be compared to the numberless offspring of these two old people.

I like the interpretation when God says, "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?" in that it also means too "wonderful" for the Lord.  This is an echo of what the angel said to the virgin Mary, (Luke 1:37). 

You have to love a woman like Sarah, even though there were bad times in the past, like when her husband tried to appease a threatening king by given him his beautiful wife passing her off as his sister.  Bad, bad idea, Abram.  They had to go to marriage counseling after that.  Then Sarai talked Abram into taking her handmaiden to be his concubine and bear him a son since she herself was barren.  Bad, bad idea, Sarai.  They had to go to family counseling after that.  Unfortunately, that began the animosity of Arabs against Jews that is out of control up to this very day, hour, minute.

But poor Abraham was called, "him as good as dead."  Hmm, that's not very romantic, is it!  But who needs Viagra when you have a mighty God who invented the whole man + woman thing, but let's not go there.

Andrew Murray applies it to us: "In this trust take thy place of deep helplessness and dependence and humility.  By nothing that God may be all.  Just yield thyself for the living God through His Son and Spirit to do His mighty work in thee."

Adam Clarke says, "The birth of Isaac, the circumstances of the father and mother considered, was entirely supernatural; and the people who proceeded from this birth were a supernatural people; and were and are most strikingly a supernatural people through every period of their history to this day."

It kinda makes you want to look up to those stars and give one of those stars your name.  Actually, we can because Abraham is not just the father of the Jewish nation, but through Christ, we can claim him as well as those who are as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.  We are adopted into the family of stars.  (Genesis 22:17) The way was opened up to all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike.  Hey, do you feel like laughing now, joyous, boisterous happy laughter?  It is too good to be true, but it is because nothing is impossible, wondrous, for God.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


"For he was looking for the city which has foundations,
whose architect and builder is God."

This is talking about a guy who lived in tents most of his adult life, whose kids and grandkids lived in tents, not even gypsy wagons.  I've said before, the longest we ever camped was three weeks, and let me tell you that was too long, give or take a week or two.  Pretty soon he might start looking for something a little more solid, something with foundations.  If he was dreaming and drawing house designs on napkins in restaurants, it might be time to look up an architect and find a builder.  Well, what do you know!  God's the best two-in-one special in town, well actually He is three-in-one, but that's another story.  Anybody who can design heaven as well as this whole earth comes highly recommended.

Andrew Murray says, "By faith he saw the unseen; in hope he lived in the future.  He had his heart as little in Canaan as in Haran; it was in heaven; it was with God...Let us separate ourselves entirely from the world and its spirit; let us, like the Son, die to the creature, that we may live to God.  A worldly spirit in the Church or the Christian is a deadly disease: it makes the life of faith impossible.  Let us count it our worst enemy, and live as foreigners, who seek the city which is to come.  Let us hear the voice calling out to Himself, to close fellowship, to obedience." 

That's walking around with your head in the clouds, and that's perfectly alright.  The world might call you spacey, but God will call you friend.  Abraham was called the friend of God.  What this means for us is to have our eyes set on things ahead, upward.  If we are looking for something, it has not yet arrived, but it will.  Will you be the one to call, "Land-ho!"  Maybe that would be a good thing to write on a tombstone: the person is not there for they sighted something better and landed in another country that is out of this world!

Adam Clarke says, "'For he looketh for a city which hath foundations.' He knew that earth could afford no permanent residence for an immortal mind, and he looked for that heavenly building of which God is the architect and owner; in a word, he lost sight of earth, that he might keep heaven in view.  And all who are partakers of his faith possess the same spirit, walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing."

He goes on, "'Whose builder and maker is God.'  The word signifies an architect, one who plans, calculates, and constructs a building.  Another word signifies...the Maker or Father of all the heavenly inhabitants, and the planner of their citizenship in that heavenly country."

It's the mundane that weighs us down, the work required to sustain us here below.  I don't know about you, but the fun thing to do when you plan your vacations to get away from it all, is to know about it ahead so it can be a happy thought.  Then when you actually arrive, it is enjoyed again, but to the fullest.  It's kinda like this...

"Things which the eye has not seen
and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him."
(I Corinthians 2:9)

Okay, if you've never had to take someone to the psych crisis unit, as we've had to do again recently, you might not quite get the full picture.  When someone is at the bottom, they can only look up.  You see, when the person feels hopeless, you cling to hope that something better is coming--and it is.  Making small talk with someone else who has come into the waiting room with despair written all over them, it might be something as simple as talking with them about their cane. Then you let the conversation gradually move towards saying something else positive for them to think about; one stranger talking to another stranger, one who had given up hope to one who has hope.  But our hope is not in this world, thank goodness.  Imagine all the more ups and downs we'd have if that was all there was to fix our hopes and dreams upon. 

Life has some cruel tricks and it isn't fair, but we can persevere like those who run through those mud races.  Yep, that's me with mud splattered all over my tank top and shorts and all over my arms and leg, all over my face and in my hair and in my mouth--not really because I would never enter one of those things--but it's the image of this old'world I'm talking about.  People don't stay wallowing in that mud.  They finally climb out and stand with their tennis shoes on solid dry ground (unless a shoe or two has been sucked off  and lost in the muddy abyss, that is), and they put their filthy arms around each other and congratulate each other on finishing the race.   Do you get the picture?

Keep looking, because one of these days, you're going to see that city and it will blind you with its beauty!  I see that far-away look in your eye.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

HEBREWS 11:9-10

"By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise,
as in a foreign land,
dwelling in tents
with Isaac and Jacob,
fellow heirs of the same promise..."

Do you ever feel like I feel that we are living as aliens in this land of promise? as in a foreign land?  That this is an awkward thing?  That this is a good thing?  That it is normal to be an alien and a foreigner here on this earth?  We are sojourners.  If we want to put roots down, it will be in heaven, not here on earth.

"It is remarkable that Abraham did not acquire any right in Canaan, except that of a burying place; nor did he build any house in it; his faith showed him that it was only a type and pledge of a better country, and he kept that better country continually in view: he, with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs of the same promise, were contented to dwell in tents, without any fixed habitation." (Adam Clarke)

"The promise was made before, Genesis 12:1-3, 7

"Now the Lord said to Abram,
'Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed...
The Lord appeared to Abram and said,
'To your descendant I will give this land.'

Not just Abraham lived this way as a sojourner, but so did Isaac.  So did Jacob. " Jacob was born fifteen years before the death of Abraham: the joint heirs of the same promise...Isaac did not receive this inheritance from Abraham, nor Jacob from Isaac, but all of them from God."
(John Wesley)

Think of Abraham' nephew Lot to whom he gave a choice where to live.  He chose Sodom and Gomorrah.  How did that work for him?  He got to get out of his tent and live in a house in a real city.  Creature comforts didn't last.  He had to get out of Dodge fast.  His wife disobeyed and looked longingly back at her old home and turned into a pillar of salt, kind of like those frozen in time at Pompeii.

His call, the promise of a country, of a son, of a seed--all is distinctly divine, above all sense and reason.  It is only when the soul looks steadily at the really supernatural things God is to do for us and in us and through us, that its faith will rest entirely on the power of God, and obey any cost."
(Andrew Murray)

You can put your tent stakes down in that!  If the great God of the universe wants to plunk His own Son down in a manger in a cow shed or sheep shed or camel shed, don't you think He can require His children to live in tents?  When He wants to do something divine, He kicks out all the human props.  Mary and Joseph had to leave their home--actually Mary might have been stoned to death if she stayed.  Herod threatened to kill God's only begotten before He could cut His teeth on a chicken bone.  Jesus spent three years as an adult being threatened, walking this earth without a place to lay his head, worse off than a fox with its own hole to live in or a bird with its own nest.  He must have felt pretty homeless about then. 

But God Has the long view.  He has heaven in mind whenever we get a little clingy to things here below.  How do you think it makes it feel when He's been up there for 2,000+yrs preparing a place for us as He promised, when we get a little overly concerned about the housing market. So being a sojourner is a reminder that this is not all there is.

Did you know that the Jews had a holiday just for camping?  They were told to celebrate the festival of tents once a year to remember how the Hebrew children wandered in the wilderness and God took care of them. Yep.  You know what happened when we went camping when I was growing up, what happened when we took our kids camping  as they were growing up, we slowed down?  We appreciated God's nature and time with each other at  a slow-down-and-smell-the-roses pace. 

Actually I'm kind of glad that I'm an alien.  There are so many things in our culture that I am uncomfortable with and there are no more new countries to escape to like our forefathers did.  We can continue to go into the boxing ring to try to throw a knock-out punch to the antagonistic Godless opponents who try to put the squeeze on us to fit us into their worldly mold, but our victory is promised in the future.  It's not that we have to lay down and let the world walk over us and insult the blood of Christ, it's just that we have to realize we will win when we cross the finish line. 

  Are you a happy camper?  Happy trails to you!

Monday, April 24, 2017


A Sequel to A Thistle and A Rose

 E're since it was decided that the Scottish Marquis of Glamdemoor would wed Lady Mary of Montrose in Scotland, plans swiftly propelled them foreward.  Soon, a party of two carriages were on their way with Lady Mary and her maid, her brother Sir Henry and the Marquis as well as their friend Sir Edward.  The romance of the Scottish Thistle and the Rose was palpable to the whole party. 

William Wallace Callander the Marquis of Glamdemoor, wrote ahead to ask his brother to bring  his sister down to meet them in Edinburgh where the ceremony was to take place.  After having earned his degree  there, William was at home in the city as well as in his beloved Highlands.  Like London is to England, so Edinburgh was to Scotland. The revered seat of learning was the heart that pumped its life to the rest of the Scots never forgetting its history.

They all came together in at the Stag Inn there.  His sister Wini jumped out of her carriage and almost leaped into the arms of her brother. 

"William!  So it is true?  I thought it canna be!  I'd begun to think you would be a bachelor all the rest of yer days.  But now you have found the verra love of your life!  It's about time," she blurted out before playfully punching him in the arm. Then she turned to grab Lady Mary's hands.  "Oh, ye are a wee one, the beauty my besotted brother wrote of."  She impulsively kissed Mary on her cheek.

William held his sister at arms length.  "With such a silly hat, how can I hug my dear sister?  Take the blooming thing off, will ye and let me look at ye now!"

Mary laughed merrily.  "So you must be Wini!"  Indeed, the young lassie was tall and winsome with beautiful black hair.  Several of its curls had escaped to frame her creamy skin lightly painted with a blush of sun on her cheeks.  "Oh, but may I introduce my brother Sir Henry the Earl of Montrose, and I believe you already know Sir Edward."

Mary glanced over to her brother where he stood frozen staring at the young woman.  She cleared her throat and whispered, "Henry?"  He acted as if he had just awakened from a long sleep.
"Excuse me, m'lady.  I am pleased to make your acquaintance," he bowed taking her hand and kissing it.  Mary saw his flush as he wasn't used to touching a ladies hand that wore no glove.  She could not stifle a giggle at the look on her brother's face.

William, however, was assessing him as well while Wini made a pretty curtsey.  Sir Edward shouldered his way forward and also reached for her hand. 

"Lady Winifred, it's good to see you again.  It has been awhile," the gentleman said.

At the use of her given name instead of the preferred shortened version, the girl glared at him.  "You know good and well that I go by Wini, Edward."

Mary was surprised at the informal greeting and even more surprised at the glare on her brother's face as Sir Edward bowed to the young woman.

"May I present to you my brother, Lord Leighton Callander of Glamdemoor, currently a student here in this fine city," William said after grabbing his brother in a bear hug then slapping his back. 

The young man took Mary's hand with a natural elegance of good breeding, lightly touching her fingers and giving a gracious bow.  He too wore a kilt of his clan's plaid.  "It is our great pleasure to welcome you to Scotland as well as into this family.  Though I have no idea how the Marquis managed to win your heart, we are glad he did."

The ladies found their room they would share this last night before the wedding.  After her maid hung up her wedding dress to prevent wrinkles, Wini carefully touched it.  "This lace is lovely, Mary.  It is alright, isn't it that I call you Mary, unless of course we are among stuffy company."

Mary laughed, "Of course Wini.  We will be sisters after tomorrow."

When they came down to eat with the rest of their party, William saw that it was as if Wini found the fourth leaf to her clover, so enamored was she by his choice in a wife.  He said a silent pray of thanks to God.  The young girl would need a lady's influence especially at this pivotal point in her life blooming into womanhood.

Mary looked over at William as they shared a smile together seeing the sheep eyes her brother was making at the young lady.  He was smitten.  He and Sir Edward were in a contest to gain her attention.  Wini was coy with them both obviously loving the attention.

Henry was saying, "It hasn't been a hundred years since the Jacobite rebellion when the crown forbade the Scotsmen to bear arms or wear their tartans.  Now, since the war against Napoleon, the whole feeling of England has turned after so many Scotts proudly fought for their country."

William said, "Yes, it was the only income for some of the poor crofters by having their young men join and send home their pay to keep their families afloat.  Now they are fallen on hard times again as many of the large estates are changing from cattle to sheep and are turning out their tenant farmers.  At the last Highland Council in Inverness, we were told as clan leaders we should be the ones to designate which of the young people should immigrate, where to, and in what order.  That is a huge responsibility to send our own people away after years of being crofters dependent upon us.  It is a grievous task indeed."

Mary had no idea the heavy responsibility her soon-to be husband bore.  She respected him all the more for it.

"At least the woolen industry is flourishing, though the people must leave their homes and go to the cities to find work," Henry said.  "You mentioned something about maintaining a hunting reserve perhaps as a way to make funds."

His brother Leighton spoke up, "It has been throw about as an idea here in Edinburgh.  Some of the estates have turned their acreages into deer parks."

William added, "I hesitate to do that as it takes away from the tillable fields for our farmers.  Yet we are fortunate to have the only Scots pine forests that is only found here in the Highlands some of which flourishes on my land.  It at least is not farmable and is a natural habitat for the hinds."

"But I say, this is bad form, is it not to be speaking of business, when we have our ladies here who bring more smiles than frowns to our table," William said.  "Indeed, I am the happiest man alive to be marrying my beautiful rose, Lady Mary on the morrow."

But it was the obvious infatuation of her brother with his sister that added even more twinkle to his eyes.  William winked at Mary and took her hand.  It was not too formal at this merry table to keep him from this public sign of affection.  She blushed but did not pull her hand away.

"Bah, enough about Glamdemoor.  I want to hear more about your estate, Montrose isn't it?" 

Edward and Leighton had excused themselves to  wander over to visit with an acquaintance and William and Mary had fallen into their own conversation with their heads close together. Henry grinned knowing he had her undivided attention.  

"Oh, I have tenants, but they bring a generous yield to add to my coffers.  But I imagine you'd rather hear about my stable.  Your brother has told me about your fondness for riding.  I must confess that I too enjoy it exceedingly.  I have begun breeding horses on a small scale with some success.  I have a very good trainer who knows good horse flesh when he sees it."

"If I ever were able to come to your place, which horse would you think would suit me?  They do have names, don't they?"

Henry got a rather crooked smile and said, "I think the one named Bewitched would be the one for you.  She also has a beautiful black mane that would remind me of your tresses henceforth.  I have loved her ever since I laid eyes on her."

He looked at Wini with such intensity, that she almost gasped aloud.  "Truly?"

"Yes, she is a beautiful creature.   I've never seen finer."

Wini felt playful taking the hint that he was speaking of more than just a horse.  "Do others find her so bewitching?"

Henry looked more serious and said.  "It doesn't matter.  I will not share her with anyone else.  I am the only one to handle her."

Wini knew he was not talking of horses any more and blushed.  "I would love to see this beauty," she said instead smiling sweetly deciding to ignore his double-meanings as if she had not understood him.  "Mayhap, someday we can meet and you will allow me to ride with you at your beloved Montrose.  Until then, I hope I can guide you all around Glamdemoor on horseback.  There is much to see and appreciate.  You will be able to come to our home after the wedding, won't you?"

"Indeed.  I want to see where my sister will live happily ever after," he grinned.  "Maybe I can borrow a kilt and blend in with the Scotsmen hereabouts."

Wini laughed loud enough to get her brother's attention.  "What's so funny, Wini?"

"Sir Henry wants to try on a kilt.  I think it would suit him quite well, don't you?" she grinned.

William laughed heartily.  "Indeed, we shall see what we can do."

Mary giggled, "Oh, Henry, are you losing your British stiff upper lip?" 

Wini joined her.  "We must make it a rule, no man may step foot upon Glamdemoor unless he wears a kilt!"  She could actually image how good he would look in one, but she wasn't about to
say that to him.

The ladies took their leave to go to the room they shared. Wini did not miss the tender look her brother gave his bride-to-be. Though it was the night before the wedding, the two ladies talked until the wee hours becoming indeed as close as sisters ever were.  Only three years separated their ages, but Mary had been through two seasons in London which gave her an advantage of a more sophisticated view of men.  She tried to gently lead her young charge in more than proper decorum, but a godly perspective.

"Wini, though my mother is not here with us," and she paused feeling just a small pang of guilt which she quickly disguarded, "I want to share with you something that she told me once that helped to give me a proper perspective in the search for a husband."

"It is quite romantic, isn't it, the way you and my brother met and fell in love.  I'm still waiting for my prince to come," she sighed.

"Yes, we met in the most unusual, but God-ordained way, I will admit.  And yes, I was captured that very first time he opened his eyes and looked at me, though covered in blood and barely conscience.   But before that, I had met many, many men who could not compare to your brother.  Though I dare say many men will seek your attention, you must always guard your heart.  There is nothing better than a good marriage, and nothing worse than a bad one.  All you have to do is look around.  From what your brother has told me, your parents had a happy one.  That, of course, is what he desires for you."

Wini stopped brushing her long locks and starred off lost in thought.  Then she turned and asked, "How did you know he was the one for you, Mary?"

Mary paused thinking.  "First of all, it was his character, and his strong faith in God that he was not afraid to express.  Then it was his bravery.  Though badly injured, he fought to stay alive.  I knew then that God's hand was upon him because there was no other reason anyone could have survived what he went through.  The way he immediately jumped in to serve me when I lost my driver impressed me as well.  And then," and Mary blushed giggling, "he was so very handsome, I could hardly breathe."

"Oh, posh, you are smitten," but Wini beamed so pleased her brother had found the love of his life in this sweet Mary.  "But not much of what you just said would apply to me to become sure of the love of a man.  I doubt I will have the opportunity to nurse a man back to health or find in a carriage driver an appropriate mate," she teased.

"That is why I began to tell you what my mother had to say about it.  She used the story of the ten virgins in the Bible to relate the truth to courtship.  You see, they all were told to be ready.  Their bridegroom or prince would come.  But only half of them obeyed the instructions and sadly the door was barred to them from entering the wedding feast.  The saddest words in the universe are "Truly, I don't know you." 

My mother also said that though the parable was instructing us all to be ready by keeping the oil of the Holy Spirit burning brightly in our lives until God comes to bring us into His kingdom, it had a double meaning, perhaps, for young women.  My mother suggested that it was probably no accident that our Lord used the example of young virgins to tell His story.  It is especially incombent upon us to keep ourselves pure, chaste, until our bridegroom comes.  If our vessel is already used up, by foolishly giving ourselves away by giving into fleeing temptations, we might miss the beauty God has planned for us in the perfect person He has chosen for us.  In other words, it will be worth the wait.  Does that make sense?"

Wini nodded though chewing on her fingernails, but obviously taking it all in.

"Then my mother related it also to the verse in Proverbs 5:15, instructions for a young man."  Mary quoted from memory, "'Drink waters out of your thine own cistern and running water out of thine own well.'  Then the writer asks if these waters should be "dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.  Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.  Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.'  I'm sure that's your hearts' desire, to have a husband who looks at only you and none other."

"Oh, yes, of course.  I see what you are saying.  If we pour out what should be in our lamps or share it with others, it is useless to us if wasted. If it has been poured out on the street others will only have walked upon it, even trampling upon our very hearts, we have foolishly given away.  Once poured out like water on the street, it is impossible to get it back, at least as the pure water it once was. Your mother was very wise," Wini said.

Mary was glad to see how quickly Wini caught on to the godly teaching.  But she wanted to give further warning, "Though my mother had taught me these things, she became so enamored by the artificial culture of London, that she overlooked character and even moral flaws in prospective husbands whom I found abhorrent.  She had sadly chosen a man for me who was a rake, though she refused to believe it, because he presented himself as an attractive gentleman in society.  In fact, men like my brother and your brother are rare indeed.  Most men, especially in the city, give themselves over to more base instincts.  With the low morals from the Prince Regent on down, the society there is repugnant with rampant immorality and vice.  People wink and look away at fornication and adultery.  I'm sorry to be so plain spoken with an innocent maiden, but you are at the age where I'm sure you've seen some of what I'm talking about."

Wini was wide eyed and said blushing, "I have heard the gossip.  It is rather astounding, isn't it.  I'm just glad we've had the awakenings in the Church of Scotland that has turned hearts back to God especially here in the Highlands.  However, there are plenty of village girls who have borne children out of wedlock or have come to be married after finding out they are with child.  It is all too common."

"The good news is, even if their lamps are empty, if they heed the warning, their lamps can still be filled before it is too late," Mary continued.  "'Though their sin be scarlet, they shall be white as snow.'  But how much better to come to the marriage bed undefiled, without spot or wrinkle, as the apostle says of the Bride of Christ.

Wini responded, "Oh, how glad I am that William found you.  I must tell you that he was sought after by many eager young women and their mothers.  After all, he is the Marquis of Glamdemoor.  He brushed them all off as if they were annoying gnats," she giggled.

Mary laughed with her.  "I'm so glad he did, but I will have to fight to not be jealous of those who had tried to catch his eye even though I know I have won his heart."

"You most certainly have.  Now, I must tell you a tale of Scottish lore.  In the third century there was a maiden named Malvina who was betrothed to a Celtic warrior named Oscar.  Before they could be married, he died valiantly in battle  Yet, as his last thoughts were of his beloved, he dispatched a messenger to bring her a spray of purple heather.  It was a token of his undying love.  But when Malvina's tears fell on to the flowers in her hand, they immediately turned white.  The white heather is indeed rare and is said to grow only where blood has been shed.  Warriors would even wear it pinned in their bonnets or tied onto their swords for good luck.  William said even some of the Scottish regiments wore it in their bonnets in France."  The girl's mouth quirked in a smile as she went on, "It is even said that it grows over the wee graves of the Faeries."

"It is a sad, but lovely legend," Mary agreed smiling.  "I think I would like to see such a Faeries grave."

Wini laughed.  "Well, I have brought you a sprig of white heather for your wedding tomorrow."  She pointed to the small bouquet on a table that Mary had not noticed before.  "After all, no good Scottish man, woman, or child would pass by the white flower without picking a spray.  It took me a good long walk on the moor before I found you one."

"So that's where the lovely scent was coming from!  Oh, thank you, Wini.  I shall love to carry it when I walk up the aisle tomorrow!"

"As you see, the thistle is not the only bloom used as a symbol of Scotland.  The heather is used from everything to wonderfully smelling mattresses some claim are softer than a feather bed, to brooms and even rope.  It is also used in buildings and thatch for roofs.  But best of all, bees collect the pollen and make the best honey.  Tea is also made and used for medicinal purposes from coughs, digestive issues to nerves.  In fact, I make my own soap with heather in it to make it smell good."  Wini winked at her.  "Perhaps you could order a cup in the morning before the ceremony if you find yourself a bundle of nerves needing to be calmed."

The ceremony was lovely in a quaint old chapel with light pouring in the stained glass windows.  Those there were privileged to be the ones who saw the joining of two lives in a holy moment before God.  Indeed it was the intertwining of the thistle and the rose.

The newlyweds bade them farewell after a wedding feast and the rest of the party headed for Glamdemoor.  The carriage was a bit crowded with Sir Henry, Sir Edward, her brother Leighton and herself in the small confines of their carriage.  After the men talked themselves out, Leighton and Sir Edward's heads rolled back in sleep.  They had been out on the town until the wee hours of the morning.  Henry however, kept his eyes on her.  She found she did not mind at all in the least.

His hair was a beautiful golden color.  For an Englishman with a title, he was no dandy for his face was tanned from being outside.  It must be true that he loved to ride.  She could hardly wait to show him her home. 

As they drew close, she pointed out the window.  As far as the eye could see, the rolling hills were covered in purple heather.  "Late August and early September are the best times to see it in bloom.  I'm glad you are getting to see it on your first trip here."  However, she thought to herself that if ere she lived away from this heather on the Highlands she loved, she would at least take enough to stuff her mattress with to keep the aroma always with her.  "Can you smell it?"

"It is exceedingly beautiful, my Lady.  I have never seen such loveliness."  He wasn't even looking outside any more.

"You can see why we love it here," she continued.

"Indeed, however, I think you would also find Montrose almost as pretty with green fields filled with sheep until the view ends in the sparkling blue of the ocean."

"Oh!"  Wini exclaimed, then she lowered her voice so as to keep from waking the others.  "I had not realized that your estate bordered the ocean.  How wonderful!  You must get a lovely sea breeze
then and not near as much snow as we do up here.  I would think that would be a vast improvement."

"Like I said, I would hope that you would like Montrose.  Though scenic in a different way, you might find it equally charming.  I would even venture to say that you might find yourself quite at home there."

Wini blushed hearing the import of what he was saying.  "Do you really think so, sir?" she whispered.  "I am so different than your sweet sister."

He grinned.  "Did I ever tell you how I like nothing better than a challenge when I bring a new horse home, that I might find a spirited one to be the best choice?"

Wini pretended to be insulted at the hint that he was comparing her once again to horses.  She crossed her arms and said almost with a pout, "Though I am a splendid rider, Sir Henry, my spiritedness once inside can be hard to tame, especially my tongue.  At times I believe my brothers do despair of me."

"You'll do," Leighton spoke with a smirk though he never opened his eyes.  "But you are, dear Wini, at times as wild as the heather.  Yet I would have to agree with this gentleman, quite as lovely."

Wini threw her reticular at him in a huff.  "You are impossible.  You should have told us you were listening."

When she threw it at him, he opened his eyes and put up his hands as if to fend off any other attack.  "There, I am fully awake now and able to defend myself.  Are you satisfied?"

Henry seemed to enjoy the repartee of brother and sister, especially since the brother had caught on to his meaning and did not rebuff him.  He was beginning to think William was right when he had told him that perhaps it was time to find himself a wife.  Sitting so close to the young woman who was making his heart beat like a herd of wild horses whenever her shoulder brushed his, he was beginning to agree.  Yes, the more he thought about it, the better it sounded.

"There it is!  My home," Wini exclaimed pointing out the window."

Not for long, Sir Henry thought, not if I can help it.

Matthew 25:1-12

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgin,
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent.
For when the foolish took their lamps, took no oil with them,
but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.
Now while the bridegroom was delaying,
they all got drowsy and began to sleep.
But at midnight there was a shout,
'Behold, the bridegroom!
Come out to meet him.'

Then all those virgin rose and trimmed their lamps. 
The foolish said to the prudent,
'Give u some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.'
But the prudent answered,
'No, there will not be enough for us and you too;
go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourself.'
And while they were going away to make the purchase,
the bridegroom came,
and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast;
and the door was shut. 
Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.'
But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.'"

"Be on the alert then,
for you do not know the day
nor the hour."
(verse 13)

I hope you enjoy this parable retold with a twist ,
the sequel to 
A Thistle and A Rose.