The Sense of Wonder - Lee Boynton and Rachel Carson

The Sense of Wonder: Lee Boynton and Rachel Carson

Southport Memorial Library, Southport Maine

July-August, 2018

 Lee painting on Southport Island, Maine

Lee painting on Southport Island, Maine

In this show quotes from Rachel Carson’s book The Sense of Wonder are interspersed with Lee’s artwork. Rachel Carson, scientist and writer, and Lee Boynton, artist and teacher, touched the world in mighty ways through the overflow of their hearts and the works of their hands. They had eyes to see the wonder in the world around them and articulated that wonder with beautiful, heart-felt language — Rachel Carson with her pen and Lee Boynton with his paint brush.

In her book The Sense of Wonder, Rachel Carson demonstrates from her own life that the sense of wonder is passed to those around us, and particularly the next generation, through love and relationship. She tells of how one stormy autumn night she wrapped her baby nephew Roger in a warm blanket and took him down to the rocky shore below her cottage on Southport. Holding him close to her heart, she introduced him to the wonder and majesty of the turbulent sea and the vast night sky. He is safe in her arms as she imparts to him that sense of awe and wonder she knew so well. She believed this heart connection with nature and one another was the key to saving our fragile, breathtaking world.

Lee kept his inborn sense of wonder alive through his relationship with our living God. His love for God and God’s Word fueled his life as an artist. “I’m a co-creator with God when I paint,” he would say. His art was an expression of his awe and wonder. As for Rachel, his summers on the coast of Maine were a creative well-spring.

Lee yearned to ignite that heart response in his students. I often heard from his students that Lee was the best teacher they ever had in any subject. He gave himself fully to the glory of the moment and to sharing the joy of discovery with color and paint. “You can do it!” he would say. “Tap into the wonder of God and that gift He has given you.. Don’t over think it. Be free to paint and sing!” His enthusiasm was infectious.

That sense of wonder was the one underlying gift Lee desired to pass on to our children. They grew up seeing him paint wherever we went. Our daughter Margie painted alongside her father throughout her life. Thanks to him, she understands the true value of her artistic gift, and is finding her own beautiful voice.

 

Find Rest and Refreshment For Your Souls

 Plein air watercolor by Lee Boynton

Plein air watercolor by Lee Boynton

Jesus said, "Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to Me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn My ways and you'll discover that I'm gentle, humble and easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in Me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear. (Matthew 11:28-30 Passion Translation)

Humility and Faith

If you bow in God's awesome presence, He will eventually exalt you as you leave the timing in His good hands. Pour out all your worries and stress upon Him and leave them there, for He always tenderly cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

The Final Salute

 The Final Salute, Photos by Margaret McWethy   For this is how much God loved the world -- He gave his one and only, unique Son  as a gift . So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life.   God did not send His Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!   John 3:16-17   The Final Salute   “He might not make it till Saturday,” Kristina, the hospice nurse, whispered, tiptoeing into the kitchen. Dad had developed a sudden onset of congestion that Monday. A deep, full-bodied cough had kept him awake for two nights. He was delirious with fatigue, but still pushing to adhere to his hourly routine, his life-line. “I don’t know how he made it across the room from the hospital bed to his recliner this morning,” Kristina said with a hushed, sardonic laugh.  We knew things had taken a turn for our father. My sister Melissa had called Kristina Wednesday afternoon and asked her to come. My sister Margaret hopped on a plane from Boston the next day. Melissa picked her up at the airport, and the four of us arrived at my father’s house around 2:00pm, within ten minutes of each other. God’s timing. He was present to us in the details from that moment on.  My sisters and I felt an odd sense of comfort as we convened around the kitchen table, awaiting Kristina’s assessment. All of us were there, we marveled — Dad’s three daughters — the three “M”s — And Kristina, the hospice nurse handpicked by our Heavenly Father to walk our earthly father through the process of dying. Kristina felt like a sister to us. She had the naval connection and many uncanny parallels in her life. Her father was an alumni of the Naval Academy. She was one of six kids, three girls and three boys, just like us, and she had married a graduate of the Naval Academy. She and Dad bonded instantly when she first came, and we all looked forward to the Honor Salute he would be receiving through Hospice of the Chesapeake on Saturday, January 27.   Dad would listen to a professional. Kristina gave him permission to go to bed and stay there. She gently explained to him that this was it, and what to expect. He received it from her like a child, and went to bed. Once he was tucked in with his head on the pillow, we heard him give a deep sigh of relief. No more pushing, no more clinging to his routine      Kristina and Darlena, the caregiver on duty that day, gave him half of a Larazapan pill, the tranquilizer from the comfort box in the refrigerator. Dad had never taken sleep aids or tranquilizers. When he couldn’t sleep or was anxious, he prayed, casting his cares on the Lord who cared for him. But on this day he did as he was told.      We were all surprised to receive his morning email the next day at 6:40: “34 degrees and a great doped sleep… now what?” He was still with us, on schedule with his morning email, letting all six of his children know he had made it through the night.       Sleep is always restorative. When I arrived that morning, Margaret was sitting at his bedside. She was reading letters he had written to Mom when he was away at sea in 1965. I sat down on the settee and listened. These letters were a glimpse into his life as commanding officer of the  Vermillion , a 489 foot attack cargo ship assigned to operations along the eastern seaboard. He was managing a crew made up of 38 officers and 387 enlisted personnel. Mom and Dad had kept each others letters, so we could read them alternately: life at sea, life at home — a delightful repartee between them, laced with humor. Memories flooded into our minds. I had a renewed respect for my father. Little did I know what he bore on his shoulders when I was 12 years old.      Dad had kept in close touch with extended family and old friends through email in his latter years. His iPad was his link to the outside world once he relinquished his drivers license. As the storm was gaining force, he sent one last email to his “subscribers,” letting them know all was not well with him.      On Friday, January 26, emails began to arrive, one after the other, on Dad’s iPad from nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, and old friends, expressing their appreciation for how he had touched their lives. The words “humble” and “generous” came up over and over again. Margaret, Melissa and I were at his bedside. The grandchildren in town came to pay their last respects. Many in far away places called to have one last conversation and to say goodbye. We were in close touch with our three brothers on the west coast through Skype and phone calls.      Margaret composed the morning email for him on Saturday, January 27. He was letting us know he made it through the night once again.      I opened his front door cautiously when I came at 9:00a.m., an hour before the Honor Salute ceremony was to take place. I didn’t know what to expect. Would he still be able to connect? He was sitting up and alert to my arrival. He smiled. “There you are!” he said as I approached his bed.      “Margaret sent the email this morning. Did you respond?” I was the email miscreant in the family. I just never seemed to respond on time, and he let me know.   “I’m here in person,” I said, taking his warm hand in mine, and kissing it. He’s up for the ceremony I thought to myself. Dying is as much of an adventure as any of his tours at sea.      I knew my friends at the Glen Burnie House of Prayer were praying for us — a core of very dedicated intercessors, responding to their call. We felt their prayers. A palpable sense of peace filled the house. The rhythmic pumping of the oxygen machine seemed to resonate with the very heartbeat of God, our Eternal Father, and the soothing sound of the water flowing through it like a cool mountain stream. Everything flowed with the very harmony of heaven, the atmosphere saturated with sunlight, sweetness and love.      Bill Lovelace, the master of ceremonies, arrived at 10:00, precisely on time, along with two young air force officers in full dress uniform. Everything about Mr. Lovelace was in sharp contrast to his military escorts. He was dressed casually in a white, long-sleeved knit sports shirt with a red and yellow stripe at the chest. White-haired and trim, he looked to be in his early to mid eighties. A prominent wooden cross hung at his neck.  Dad beamed. He was more than present; he was fully engaged, the wide smile on his face drawing them in to his bedside. 

The Final Salute, Photos by Margaret McWethy

For this is how much God loved the world -- He gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life. God did not send His Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!  John 3:16-17

The Final Salute

“He might not make it till Saturday,” Kristina, the hospice nurse, whispered, tiptoeing into the kitchen. Dad had developed a sudden onset of congestion that Monday. A deep, full-bodied cough had kept him awake for two nights. He was delirious with fatigue, but still pushing to adhere to his hourly routine, his life-line. “I don’t know how he made it across the room from the hospital bed to his recliner this morning,” Kristina said with a hushed, sardonic laugh.

We knew things had taken a turn for our father. My sister Melissa had called Kristina Wednesday afternoon and asked her to come. My sister Margaret hopped on a plane from Boston the next day. Melissa picked her up at the airport, and the four of us arrived at my father’s house around 2:00pm, within ten minutes of each other. God’s timing. He was present to us in the details from that moment on.

My sisters and I felt an odd sense of comfort as we convened around the kitchen table, awaiting Kristina’s assessment. All of us were there, we marveled — Dad’s three daughters — the three “M”s — And Kristina, the hospice nurse handpicked by our Heavenly Father to walk our earthly father through the process of dying. Kristina felt like a sister to us. She had the naval connection and many uncanny parallels in her life. Her father was an alumni of the Naval Academy. She was one of six kids, three girls and three boys, just like us, and she had married a graduate of the Naval Academy. She and Dad bonded instantly when she first came, and we all looked forward to the Honor Salute he would be receiving through Hospice of the Chesapeake on Saturday, January 27. 

Dad would listen to a professional. Kristina gave him permission to go to bed and stay there. She gently explained to him that this was it, and what to expect. He received it from her like a child, and went to bed. Once he was tucked in with his head on the pillow, we heard him give a deep sigh of relief. No more pushing, no more clinging to his routine

    Kristina and Darlena, the caregiver on duty that day, gave him half of a Larazapan pill, the tranquilizer from the comfort box in the refrigerator. Dad had never taken sleep aids or tranquilizers. When he couldn’t sleep or was anxious, he prayed, casting his cares on the Lord who cared for him. But on this day he did as he was told.

    We were all surprised to receive his morning email the next day at 6:40: “34 degrees and a great doped sleep… now what?” He was still with us, on schedule with his morning email, letting all six of his children know he had made it through the night. 

    Sleep is always restorative. When I arrived that morning, Margaret was sitting at his bedside. She was reading letters he had written to Mom when he was away at sea in 1965. I sat down on the settee and listened. These letters were a glimpse into his life as commanding officer of the Vermillion, a 489 foot attack cargo ship assigned to operations along the eastern seaboard. He was managing a crew made up of 38 officers and 387 enlisted personnel. Mom and Dad had kept each others letters, so we could read them alternately: life at sea, life at home — a delightful repartee between them, laced with humor. Memories flooded into our minds. I had a renewed respect for my father. Little did I know what he bore on his shoulders when I was 12 years old.

    Dad had kept in close touch with extended family and old friends through email in his latter years. His iPad was his link to the outside world once he relinquished his drivers license. As the storm was gaining force, he sent one last email to his “subscribers,” letting them know all was not well with him.

    On Friday, January 26, emails began to arrive, one after the other, on Dad’s iPad from nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, and old friends, expressing their appreciation for how he had touched their lives. The words “humble” and “generous” came up over and over again. Margaret, Melissa and I were at his bedside. The grandchildren in town came to pay their last respects. Many in far away places called to have one last conversation and to say goodbye. We were in close touch with our three brothers on the west coast through Skype and phone calls.

    Margaret composed the morning email for him on Saturday, January 27. He was letting us know he made it through the night once again.

    I opened his front door cautiously when I came at 9:00a.m., an hour before the Honor Salute ceremony was to take place. I didn’t know what to expect. Would he still be able to connect? He was sitting up and alert to my arrival. He smiled. “There you are!” he said as I approached his bed.

    “Margaret sent the email this morning. Did you respond?” I was the email miscreant in the family. I just never seemed to respond on time, and he let me know.

 “I’m here in person,” I said, taking his warm hand in mine, and kissing it. He’s up for the ceremony I thought to myself. Dying is as much of an adventure as any of his tours at sea.

    I knew my friends at the Glen Burnie House of Prayer were praying for us — a core of very dedicated intercessors, responding to their call. We felt their prayers. A palpable sense of peace filled the house. The rhythmic pumping of the oxygen machine seemed to resonate with the very heartbeat of God, our Eternal Father, and the soothing sound of the water flowing through it like a cool mountain stream. Everything flowed with the very harmony of heaven, the atmosphere saturated with sunlight, sweetness and love.

    Bill Lovelace, the master of ceremonies, arrived at 10:00, precisely on time, along with two young air force officers in full dress uniform. Everything about Mr. Lovelace was in sharp contrast to his military escorts. He was dressed casually in a white, long-sleeved knit sports shirt with a red and yellow stripe at the chest. White-haired and trim, he looked to be in his early to mid eighties. A prominent wooden cross hung at his neck.  Dad beamed. He was more than present; he was fully engaged, the wide smile on his face drawing them in to his bedside. 

IMG_1686 (1).jpg

To open the ceremony, Mr. Lovelace invited Dad to speak a few words about his naval career. With this invitation, Dad came alive like a bright canary bursting into song. With utmost clarity, he spoke of graduating from the Naval Academy on December 19, 1941, and about his first tour of duty in Pearl Harbor as a newly commissioned officer, soon after the Japanese invasion. He had just turned 22.

    Dad had a remarkable memory for details at the age of 98. He was in his glory, speaking with all the passion and joy of one who had found their purpose and walked in God’s will for their life. He had dreamed of going to sea since he was ten years old. He would have taken us through his entire 34 year career, year by year, but after about 15 minutes, Mr. Lovelace interrupted him to read a quote about Dad he liked. Rear Admiral Marmaduke Bain had remarked in an interview with the Naval Historical Foundation that “Bob McWethy was probably the best ship handler I have ever known. He was one with the ship.” I thought of Lee, and how I always said he was “one with his paint brush.”

    Mr. Lovelace presented Dad with a beautiful handmade quilt and a plaque, then the two officers stood at attention and gave Dad his final salute. To wind up the ceremony, Dad thanked Kristina for “saving him from himself,” then Mr. Lovelace and the two officers left.

    Mr. Lovelace — the master of ceremonies. Only God! Like Kristina, he was handpicked for that role. I looked upon him as a high ranking officer in God’s army, called to lace up Dad’s life and purpose with love. During the ceremony, Dad was passing his baton, the patriarch of the family was turning the command of his ship over to the next generation. I saw my father’s military influence in my life with fresh eyes. His dedication to God and country were a precious gift fitting me for a life in the service — in that heavenly branch where the commander-in-chief is God and the aim is to bring heaven to earth.

     January 27 was an appointed time. This was the last day Dad was fully present to us on this side of the veil. He crossed the river and made landfall on the shores of Sweet Beulah Land at 1:15pm on January 29. I imagined a grand reunion with Mom, Lee, and his many friends and loved ones who had made that crossing before him.

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The Navy Hymn

Eternal Father, strong to save

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave

Who baddest the mighty ocean deep

It’s own appointed limits keep;

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea!

 

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard

And hushed their raging at Thy Word

Who walked on the foaming deep

And calm amidst it’s rage didst sleep;

Oh, hear us when we cry to thee

For those in peril on the sea!

 

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood

Upon the chaos dark and rude

And bid it’s angry tumult cease

And give, for wild confusion, peace;

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea!

 

O Trinity of love and power!

Our family shield in danger’s hour;

From rock and tempest, fire and foe

Protect us wheresoever we go;

Thus evermore shall rise to Thee

Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Growing in Grace

They will still thrive, bear fruit and prosper in old age (Psalm 92:14)

 Olive trees in southern Italy, photo by Catherine Libeert

Olive trees in southern Italy, photo by Catherine Libeert

My friend Catherine took this photo of these olive trees on her travels in Southern Italy over the holidays. She was amazed to hear that the trees in this grove are all between 1000 - 2000 years old and are still bearing abundant fruit. Did it cross her mind that some were planted when Jesus walked this earth? She didn't say.

We celebrated my father's 98th birthday on January 5. Catherine sent this photo the next day, not knowing it was the day after my father's birthday. The moment I saw Catherine's photos of these trees, I thought of my father. He is like these ancient, gnarled trees -- still thriving, bearing fruit and prospering in his old age.

 Dad, Grampa Bob

Dad, Grampa Bob

Psalm 92:12-15 (Amplified Bible)

The righteous [good people] will flourish like the date palm [long-lived, upright and useful];

They will grow like a cedar of Lebanon (or like one of these olive trees) [majestic and stable].

Planted in the house of the Lord,

They will flourish in the courts of our God.

[Growing in grace] they will still thrive

and bear fruit and prosper in old age;

They will flourish and be vital and fresh

[rich in trust and love and contentment];

[They are living memorials] to declare

that the Lord is upright and faithful [to His promises].

Open My Eyes, That I May See

Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me

  Watersong,  Bedford, VA, Pleinair oil painting by Lee Boynton

Watersong, Bedford, VA, Pleinair oil painting by Lee Boynton

You are God's work of art, His poem

Ephesians 2:10 (Passion Translation)

We have become His poetry, a recreated people that will fulfill the destiny He has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it.

My mother was a poet. She wrote this poem about me when I was in my late teens or early twenties.

In Praise of a Quiet Daughter

a mother of six blesses 

the child who 

accepts the world

the way things are.

The child of quiet contemplation

The stargazer

the serene

The True Believer

who is the waterlily

that becomes the brook

filling and refilling

replenishing her faith.

And the Soul Felt Its Worth

 Point Reyes Pines, Plein air oil painting by Lee Boynton

Point Reyes Pines, Plein air oil painting by Lee Boynton

Your Are God's Workmanship

Ephesians 2:10 (Amplified Bible Translation)

For we are His (God's) workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above -- spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

From my Spirit-filled Life Bible

Word Wealth: Workmanship Greek: poiema, from the verb poieo, "to make." (Compare "Poem" and "poetry.") The word signifies that which is manufactured, a product, a design produced by an artisan. Poiema emphasizes God as the Master Designer, the universe as His creation (Romans 1:20), and the redeemed believer as His new creation (Ephesians 2:10). Before conversion our lives had no rhyme or reason. Conversion brought us balance, symmetry, and order. We are God's poem, His work of art.

From Whence Comes Your Help

 In the Shadow of Mount Mansfield: Pleasant Valley Road, Cambridge, VT                                                       Plein air oil by Lee Boynton 

In the Shadow of Mount Mansfield: Pleasant Valley Road, Cambridge, VT                                                       Plein air oil by Lee Boynton 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,                                                                                               Will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Psalm 91:1

 

Psalm 121 (NLT)

I look up to the mountains -- 

    does my help come from there?

My help comes from the Lord,

The maker of heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;

The One who watches over you will not slumber.

Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord Himself watches over you!

The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.

The sun will not harm you by day,

    nor the moon by night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,

both for now and forever.

Appointed Times; Appointed Places

  Thanksgiving Snow,  Plein air oil painting by Lee Boynton

Thanksgiving Snow, Plein air oil painting by Lee Boynton

On this mountain the Lord Almighty

will prepare a feast of rich food for all people,

A banquet of aged wine—

the best meats and the finest wines.

 

On this mountain He (God) will destroy the shrouds

that enfold all people,

The veil that covers all nations;    

He will swallow up death forever.

The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces;

He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth,

The Lord has spoken.  Isaiah 25: 6-8

 The Lord is always speaking if we have the ears to hear and the eyes to see. “When He speaks, the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.” (to quote a line from Into the Garden Alone, one of my favorite hymns). He speaks and He sings over us— words of life, words of love, comfort, strength, courage… The Lord has been speaking and singing over me a lot as I have been walking through a season of loss. Recently, He has been giving me revelation (or been speaking to me) by making me aware of how significant dates and certain numbers have been echoing through my life, pointing to particular passages of Scripture.

For years the Lord would highlight the number 11 for Lee and me. This was our God number. When we saw 11:11 on the digital clock in the car or on the stove, or in any random place, we’d give each other a high five and say, “Deuteronomy 11:11.” This had become one of our life verses: …the land which you cross over to posses is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven.

We had been sowing our seed and watering it by foot as in a vegetable garden long enough, referring to Deuteronomy 11:10 — that is operating in our own limited strength and understanding. We wanted the land of our lives to be expansive, a land of hills and valleys full of God’s beautiful Spirit, drinking water from the rain of heaven. We wanted the full access to our Heavenly Father Jesus died to give us: the abundant life; heaven on earth.

As our parents first began to show the effects of age on their bodies, Lee and I would ask God to give us the affirmation that all four of them would be going to heaven, never imagining in a million years that any one of them would outlive either of us. Longevity had been one of the hallmarks of both of our families for generations. My father is 98 years old, and “Old Nanny” on Lee’s side, had crossed the finish line at the age of 100. As Lee and I grew in our understanding of God’s covenant love and salvation, we would pray for everyone in our family, all our loved ones, to give their lives to Jesus, the doorway to heaven. And Lee would add, “whatever it takes, Lord.”    

My mother was the first to go long after we had first prayed the salvation prayer. She spread her wings on October 11, 2014 at the age of 94. October was our birthday month. The Lord was saying to us, “My daughter Liz has crossed over. Like you were born to life on earth, she has been born to life in heaven. She no longer has to water her beautiful earthly gardens by foot.”

Lee and I were born twenty four days apart in 1953 — me on October 2 and he on October 26. Over the past year, the number 24 has been speaking to me about “being apart" or “separated.” We were joined in marriage, became one flesh, on April 26, 1980, at the age of 27. The number 27 has been speaking to me of being “joined.” Along with this awareness of the meaning of these numbers, I came to realize that important, once-in-a-life-time events pertaining to Lee seemed to fall on the 26th day of the month without our planning it that way.

 Lee was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer on the afternoon of New years Eve, 2014, only          2 1/2 months after my mother died. Despite all of our prayers and positioning, Lee was not healed in this life. He spread his wings and crossed over on April 24, 2016, and was cremated on April 26, at 3:00pm, the precise hour he and I were married. At first I thought this was a cruel ending to our blessed 36 year marriage, but since Lee went home, God has continued to instruct me on the wonders of salvation through repeating dates and significant numbers. Lee was born on October 26, 1953, and we were married on April 26, 1980. We had selected that date for our wedding because we wanted to be married on Lilac Hill at the height of spring when the lilacs would be in bloom. 

We were 27 years old and in love, eager to get married and “live happily ever after.” At that point in our lives, we had no idea that marriage was a picture of the covenant love between Christ and His bride, the church— that is true believers. Lee and I were true believers; we had both given our lives to Jesus five years before we met, but were far from understanding God and His ways, or, sadly, anything pertaining to salvation. That came gradually as we lived by faith, trusting our Heavenly Father on our life-path in the arts.

God has a way of orchestrating the details with His bigger plan in mind. He will take what is dark and horrendous in our fallen world and use it for good — for the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20). The timing of Lee’s death was not random or happenstance. The Jewish Passover feast takes place at different times each year, depending on the calendar. Jesus was a Jew. He grew up celebrating Passover, the commemoration of the liberation of the Jews from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. Jesus was crucified at dusk on a Friday, at the start of Passover. He rose from the grave three days later, on a Sunday, the Sabbath. Christians around the world celebrate His resurrection on Easter Sunday — Jesus, the Lamb of God, freeing us from the slavery of sin.

In the year 2016, the year Lee crossed over, Passover started at dusk on Friday April 22. Lee started to cross the river to sweet Beulah Land at precisely that time, at dusk on Friday, April 22. He reached the heavenly shore three days later, at dusk on Sunday, April 24. At that moment, he and I were separated, no longer joined in marriage on earth. Through the timing of this sacred ending to Lee’s life, God was showing me that Lee was with Him. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8) Like Jesus, Lee had received his resurrection body and was surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses in the heavenly realms — his true home. Lee’s earthly tent was destroyed on April 26, at 3:00pm, the precise hour we were married, because he didn’t need it anymore. We spread his ashes on the waters off his beloved Capitol Island in Maine on July 26, 2016.

 Lee’s parents were both in their 90s when Lee went home. Lee had his last conversation with his mother on her 90th birthday, April 21. Granny and Grampin were devastated over the loss of their beloved youngest son. They had been living in Scottsdale, Arizona for some 20 years after Grampin retired. I was so sorry I couldn’t give them hugs. When I was finally able to go out to visit them in June, both were very eager to hear more about Jesus, and the hope we have in Him. My words were a comfort to them and also to myself as I spoke them. 

 It was a comfort to see their place at “Upon the Rock,” their small, privately owned assisted living residence too, and to recall how God had answered our prayers for this transition in their lives. We had all hoped to persuade them to come back east, and find a place in Vermont close to Lee’s brother Clark or in Annapolis, close to us. Granny resisted the idea of moving from their house in the Terra Vita community and taking this next step in their lives. We couldn’t persuade her to change her mind, so Lee and I began to pray. We had no idea what assisted living options were available in the Phoenix area and wouldn’t have known where to begin to look. Then one day in September, 2014, Granny fell and broke her hip, and it became clear that they would have to face the inevitable.

 God answered our prayers for them in a miraculous way. One day they called to tell us they had found the place. “We’ve signed a contract with Upon the Rock," Granny said. “It’s only a mile from Terra Vita, and it feels just like home.”  When I was out there, I met their caregiver Cammi, and all of the warm-hearted staff at Upon the Rock in person. The atmosphere at Upon the Rock resonated with the selfless love of Jesus; it was a refreshing oasis of God's mercy and care in the desert.

 My youngest daughter Catherine and I spent Thanksgiving with Clark and Cheryl and their son Jack in Charlotte, VT this year. Repeating Dates — Catherine and I drove up from Annapolis on Tuesday, November 21. On Wednesday, November 22, Cammi sent a photo of Granny and Grampin enjoying the Thanksgiving festivities at Upon the Rock. Granny looked radiant in her favorite color blue. Grampin was wearing a brand new, beige sweater and was smiling. It was a comfort to know they were there and so loved.

 On Friday, November 24, the hospice nurse at Upon the Rock called and told us Grampin had  taken a sudden downward turn on Thanksgiving Day. He had been losing his ability to swallow. She wanted us to know he was failing, and could go at any time. This news came as a shock. We had spent much of Thanksgiving Day remembering Lee. In the midst of our anguish, I saw that The Lord was giving us this time together to prepare us for another loss. Cheryl made a reservation for Clark to go out to Arizona early Monday morning. Clark arrived around noon Arizona time, and was there to say goodbye to his father. 

    “He was waiting for me,” Clark said. Clark sent him off, and I could imagine Lee greeting him with open arms on the other side of the veil. Father and son were joined in the heavenly realms on November 27.

 Lee did the painting Thanksgiving Snow in 2011. He and I drove up to Vermont from Annapolis on November 21 that year. A record snowfall started in the early morning hours on November 22. On November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving, we piled into Clark’s car and drove along snow-covered, back roads to the Trappe Family Lodge in Stowe. While the rest of us cross country skied, Lee painted. As I look at this painting today, I see so clearly that this painting was prophetic. Thanksgiving was on November 24 in 2011; Lee was painting Isaiah 25:6-8 - Mount Zion, the presence of God, seen through a gossamer veil.

Hebrews 6:19-20 (Amplified Bible)

This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot breakdown under any pressure that bears upon it] -- a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, the mountain of God, the most Holy Place in which the presence of God dwells], where Jesus has entered [in advance] as a forerunner for us. [And Lee too!]

Overcoming Unbelief

It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 Message Translation

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The gateway to a place of unsurpassed beauty and serenity on Maryland's Eastern Shore

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.  Hebrews 11:1

Jesus said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Mark 9:23

[I say] with tears, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." Mark 9:24

Lessons from the Gateway

Lesson #5 Overcoming Unbelief -- A Picture

I had spent two days in heaven on earth at the Wades Point Inn on the Maryland Eastern Shore. The Lord had arranged every detail of my being there, and poured out blessing upon blessing over me in that place. I had arrived in a state of utter turmoil and left fully restored and at peace.

On my little two day retreat, My Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, very graciously helped me work through the “black hole” issues in my heart.  Having been released of a heavy burden and my heart now filled with joy, I was eager to stop by Lilac Hill on my way home to see Margaret while she was down and to thank her for being there so I could get away.

As I drove up the driveway, I thought about Lee’s final days. Lee and I spent his last three weeks at Lilac Hill. We had made that decision right before leaving the hospital. He was so weak, he could not have managed the eight steps up to our front door. At Lilac Hill there was only one step into the house.

The Lord had arranged for Margaret and her family to be there the last week Lee was with us. They had come down during their son Bobby’s spring break for years. Both Margaret and her husband Steve had intimate, one-on-one last visits with Lee. He was a love magnet. We all wanted to be at his bedside, holding his hands, running our fingers through his hair, kissing his forehead.

Before they left, Margaret set up a Go-Fund-Me account for our family. She posted one of Lee’s paintings of a skipjack under sail and wrote a touching piece about him. The many responses that flooded in through Go-Fund-Me had been such a comfort and carried me through the initial, unspeakable agony of my loss. Sisters, brothers — family and friends! What a blessing they are in times of grief and trouble.

 I parked by the Red House and went in to see my father - refreshed. He welcomed me warmly as if I had been away for a month, and informed me that Margaret and my youngest sister Melissa had just left for the pool. 

 “Maybe you could meet up with them there,” he said.

I quickly watered the gardens before leaving, and I drove down the driveway in a bit of a hurry, eager to get to the pool. But then was suddenly brought to a stop. Right where the dead branch had been was a large dead opossum, its bloody guts opened and swarming with flies. A long necked, black vulture rocked back and forth six feet away, ready to feast.

 “What is this!?” I cried. “A dead opossum!  That wasn’t there fifteen minutes ago when I went up the driveway. What are you showing me Lord?” Opossums are nocturnal. They look rather sinister, live and operate under the cover of darkness. 

Lessons from the gateway -- at the point of entrance and exit. The dead branch had prevented me from going up; the dead opossum was preventing me from going down. I had spent the weekend in heaven on earth at the Wades Point Inn, and returned to Lilac Hill, our heaven on earth, but now I couldn’t leave. Something dead was preventing me from re-entering the world. Is this a picture of my unforgiveness? or maybe it's my unbelief? -- a lack of trust that You are all You say you are and have fully healed my broken heart.

 I put the car in park, got out and looked for a sturdy stick to push the stinking carcass out of the way. I couldn't just think about it, talk about it, pray about it, I had to do something -- get out of myself, take responsibility (find the sturdy stick) and move it --  no falling back into old familiar patterns.

Jesus taught us to pray, 

            “Our Father who art in heaven, 

             Hallowed be Thy name, 

             Thy kingdom come, 

             Thy will be done, 

             On earth as it is in heaven. 

No stinking carcasses covered with flies litter the streets of gold, and in heaven there is no darkness. The glory of God illuminates it; The Lamb is its light. (Revelation 21:23,25) On earth as it is in heaven, I thought. That's me. The Lamb lives in my heart. I bring heaven to earth through my heart -- my heart healed and cleansed of all that is dead. 

Revelation 21:5-7

He who sat on the throne said, "Behold I make all things new." And He said to me, "write for these words are true and faithful. And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. She who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be her God and she shall be my daughter.