Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Psalm Sing At Last

After a very long stretch of time without any psalm sings, we finally managed to arrange a last-minute psalm sing earlier this month.  We had a very nice time singing, visiting, and eating delicious leftover birthday cake.

We worked on two tunes: Glenluce and Bloxham.  Glenluce is a very old and very simple melody with a very interesting and unusual harmony.  You may have heard other recordings of this tune, like this one and this one.  We thought it was a good fit for the last half of Psalm 42.

Psalm 42:6-11 to Glenluce

Bloxham starts out just like Colchester, but then heads in a very different direction.

Psalm 119:97-104 to Bloxham


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Psalms Sung

A friend in Scotland has put together a nice website with recordings of psalm singing.  He's posted recordings from several different psalters, but they are now sorted so that you can easily listen to just the recordings from your favorite psalter.  Here's the link to the recordings from the Scottish Psalter:

The Scottish Metrical Psalter (1650) on The Psalms Sung

If you hit "play" the tracks will play through consecutively, so I like to pull up this site when I have housework to do, or sweaters to unravel.

In other news, we had a very nice communion season earlier this month, with a number of visitors, including a family that stayed with us for two weeks; so it's been a busy but enjoyable month.  I would have a lot to blog about, if I had time for blogging. :)  I'll try to at least post a few photos some time soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No Matter What Happens

John Calvin:
...our chief consolation is that this is the cause of God and that he will take it in hand to bring it to a happy issue.  Even though all the princes of the earth were to unite for the maintenance of our Gospel, still we must not make that the foundation of our hope.  So, likewise, whatever resistance we see today offered by almost all the world to the progress of the truth, we must not doubt that our Lord will come at last to break through all the undertakings of men and make a passage for his word.  Let us hope boldly, then, more than we can understand; he will still surpass our opinion and our hope.
--found in The Puritan Hope by Iain Murray (highly recommended!)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Two Perspectives

Two perspectives on the Christian's duty at election time, by respected Reformed pastors:

By Rev. Joel Beeke of the HRC--
Why My Conscience Won't Let Me Not Vote for Romney

And by Rev. Nathan Eshelman of the RPCNA--
Why the Word of God Will Not Let Me Vote for Mitt Romney

Can you guess which author I find most persuasive?  As you might have guessed, while I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Beeke, on this point, I agree wholeheartedly with Rev. Eshelman. It seems to me that the argument for voting for Mr. Romney is based in fear and pragmatism, whereas the argument for abstaining (or voting for a third party) is based in faith and confidence.  But what do you think? :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

a shortcut

Last week, I discovered to my delight that the web address had come available.  I snatched it up, and forwarded it here.  So if you type into your browser's address bar, it will just land you right back here on this blog.  Of course, the old blog address still works too, so you don't have to change your bookmarks or links.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Union Question

Have you seen these articles yet?

A moving appeal by Rev. Kenny Stewart of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland:
Reformed Scottish Presbyterianism: Reunion in the 21st Century?

An FP response, by Rev. David Campbell and Matthew Vogan:
Reformed Scottish Presbyterianism: A Response

If you haven't seen them, go and have a read, then come back and tell me what you think.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Two Old Psalm Recordings

A while back I uploaded two new recordings to, but I'm just now getting around to sharing them with you here.  Oops!  If you'd like to download them to your own computer, you can do so here.

The first is an older recording of FP congregational singing in Santa Fe.  The precentor is Nathanael Smith.

Psalm 40:5-9 to St. Paul

The second was sent to me by a blog reader.  This is a recording of Free Presbyterian congregational singing in Glasgow.  I checked with Evelyn, and she confirmed that the precentor is definitely her husband, Rev. Jett Smith.

Psalm 130 to Martyrdom


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back Home Again In Indiana

In July, I flew back to my old home state of Indiana to attend the Reformed Presbyterian International Conference.  It was a six-day conference with about 2100 attendees, mostly RPs of course, but also a few (like myself) from other denominations.  The week was full of public worship services, lectures, classes, psalm singing, and fellowship with friends both old and new.

The conference was an encouraging experience for me.  The lectures and classes were edifying, and I appreciated the opportunity, especially given that I come from a small and fairly isolated congregation, to spend some time with like-minded people outside my usual circle.

I got to see some old friends, some of whom I haven't seen in well over a decade, and to make new friends as well.  I met some Facebook friends, and some who read this blog.  I even met someone who used to be an FP!  I was encouraged, challenged, and comforted by the people that I met, and have enjoyed keeping in touch with several of them.

I especially appreciated the opportunity to spend some time with a few other single women around my own age.  Here's one of them, in the Crown and Covenant bookshop.  I saw a lot of interesting titles in the bookshop, but managed to limit myself to two.  Oh, and I also picked up a copy of the new RP psalter.  I'm tempted to write a review...but probably won't have the time, at least not any time soon. :)

The main speaker was Dr. Beeke.  I heard Dr. Beeke preach often when I was a child, as he was the moderator of the (pastorless) congregation I attended in Kalamazoo; so it was nice to hear him again.  Here are links to recordings of his lectures at the conference, plus outlines.  I really appreciated these lectures, and look forward to listening to them again.
Dr. Beeke's Lectures

One of my favorite experiences of the week was the Scottish Psalter psalm sing.  It was well attended with 150 or so present.  Here's a video of a few of the selections sung.  (Can you see me there in the front row?)

Perhaps you're thinking "It's been a while since you've had a psalm sing there in Texas, hasn't it?" And if so, you're right.  I'm in the process of trying to arrange something.  Hopefully we'll get to do some psalm singing soon!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Good Breakfast

Eggs in bell peppers.  The photo is pretty self-explanatory.  Cut a bell pepper in half and scoop out the seeds.  Crack an egg into each half and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake peppers at 400 degrees till eggs are done--or, grill them.

Hopefully next week I'll have a chance to tell y'all about the conference I attended last month. :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

It never grows old

It's been four years since we discovered this video, and it's still one of our all-time favorites.  It's a great performance of a great piece, and as a bonus, there are bouncing umbrellas. :)

The William Tell Overture

P.S.  Imagine my surprise to visit my own blog and find that I had posted on Sunday!  I actually wrote this post a few months ago, and scheduled it to post automatically, though I'd intended it to post on Monday the 30th, exactly four years after the post linked above.

I believe that Sunday is the Sabbath day as per the fourth commandment.  I try to spend the first day of the week in rest, worship, edifying conversation, and good books.  I don't blog on the Lord's Day, or listen to secular music.  I'm sorry that I gave the impression that I do both, by not double checking the post date.  I've changed the date of this post, and will be more careful in future. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Family Photo 2012

As usual, I have quite a backlog of things to post, but no time to post them.  This week has been especially busy, because I am preparing to fly up to Indiana this Saturday to attend the Reformed Presbyterian International Conference.  I expect that the conference will be quite interesting, and am very much looking forward to it.

Anyway, this is just a quick post to share a photo.  Mom and Dad are here visiting from Israel, so on Monday, before Caleb and Leah took off for a month in Canada, we all got together for one last visit.  We thought it would be a nice opportunity to take a family photo.

So here's Mom and Dad, their children and spouses, and grandchildren.  Back row, left to right: Ben, Leah holding Preston, Caleb holding Brooklyn, Jesh holding Shona, and Mark holding Charlotte.  Front row, left to right: Elijah, me, Dad holding Noah, Mom holding Olivia, and Mercy.

I'd like to think that when I get back from the conference, I'll have time to post more, but the reality is, I may not.  But I will try. :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Independence Day 2012

Last Wednesday was Independence Day.  We went to Mark and Mercy's for lunch, where we spent time both indoors (during the rain showers) and outdoors (between them), eating grilled hot dogs (and other good food) and visiting with one another.

It was almost two years ago that we enjoyed another barbecue in this same back yard, only back then it was Caleb and Leah's house.  A few babies have been added to our church family since then.  Mercy, for instance, was 5 months pregnant with Charlotte, last time around.  Now Charlotte is this curly-headed little darling

...and Mercy is almost five months pregnant with baby #3.    

The newest baby in our midst: James and Hayley's third child, and first daughter, Adele.

Since July 4th was a Wednesday, we had a church service in the evening.  By then the rain clouds had cleared away, and when the service was over, the young people took off to Kemah to see some fireworks.  The boys and I were about to head home when a friend ran up to the car and asked "Do you want to come over, just because?" and of course we we went to their house, where the kids had a great time playing together, and the adults spent some time eating oatmeal bars, drinking iced rooibus tea, and discussing the exciting future ahead of us. :)  No fireworks--but a nice Independence Day just the same.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Last Saturday...

...I got to babysit Mark and Mercy's little girls.  Of course, I had to take pictures!

Sometimes people tell me that Olivia and I look alike, but I think they are just trying to flatter me.

As you can see, Charlotte takes food very seriously.

In this case, I can't blame her.  These are seriously good cookies.  They are chocolate crinkles, also known as Mercy's Morsels, or Merc Bursts, or something like that, because Mercy was the first to discover this recipe.  I get a lot of my best recipes from Mercy.  She's such a nice sister to share them with me, don't you think?

And now, it's my turn to share the recipe with you.

Chocolate Crinkles

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups white sugar (orig. recipe called for 2 cups but 1 3/4 is plenty)
1 cup veggie oil (I use coconut)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (I use at least half whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar.
Blend cocoa powder, white sugar, and oil.  Add the eggs, then the vanilla.  Blend the flour, baking powder, and salt, then add to the other ingredients.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Cover and chill for a while.

When the dough is nice and stiff, scoop out rounded tablespoons and drop them into the powdered sugar.  Nudge the hunk of dough about with the spoon until it is covered with powdered sugar, then pick up and roll between your palms into a ball shape.  Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Enjoy!  I like to chill mine in the freezer before eating them, but I might be weird.

"My name is Charlotte and I approve of these cookies."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Growing Fast

So, Noah lost his first tooth.

Isn't he the cutest thing??

He can also be pretty silly...

With his big brother.  Elijah does not look at all himself here.  This blank polite smile is most unusual for him.  He is usually much more expressive.

(Did you notice Elijah's new glasses?)
The boys have grown so much.  They really aren't my babies any more, are they?

Speaking of babies, did you know that my little sister Mercy is expecting her third?  She is due in December.  I can't wait to meet my newest niece or nephew. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Good Post: Ives on Retention of Youth

I like to read the West Port Experiment blog, written by Rev. Michael Ives of the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Rhode Island.  (My sister and her husband visited that PRC last summer, and enjoyed hearing Rev. Ives and getting to know him a little bit.)

I thought Mr. Ives' latest post was particularly interesting, on a topic my friends and family discuss often--retention of our youth.  Yes, Christian education is a big part of keeping our children in the church, but it's obviously not the only factor!  Click here to read more:

Building Multi-Generational Reformed Churches

Update: Mr. Ives has written a "Part II" on the subject.  While the first post focused on the duties of parents, this one focuses on the duties of ministers and elders.

Church Catechesis and the Retention of her Youth

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

a cappella: two words, two p's, two l's

On Friday we had a psalm sing, at Carl's place this time.  We were missing all of our bass singers, and one of our altos, but by switching Sam from tenor to bass (he's versatile like that) we had at least one person for each part.  We reviewed the short meter tune Golden Hill, then moved on to Wiltshire.  We've been singing Wiltshire for years and know it well, but half of us were singing the end one way and half the other, so we agreed to do it "by the book" from here on out.

A cappella singing is hard sometimes, especially when you're the only person singing your part.  Several people kindly pointed out that my timing was a bit off in the last line.  So, I tried to more closely follow Jeshurun's conducting.  My timing sounded fine to me, but the others said no, I still didn't have it quite right.  Supposedly my timing was clashing with that of the tenors, but I just couldn't hear what I was doing wrong, and listening to the recording, I still can't.  Can you? :)

Psalm 84:7-12 to Wiltshire

I'm so happy to finally have a decent recording of the second half of Psalm 84.  Now I just need a good recording of the first half, sung to University, of course!

We also worked on the tune Glenluce, but few of us knew it.  Perhaps next time we'll work on it again.

As usual, I've got lots to post, but so little time. :(  Perhaps eventually I'll get some posts up...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 2012 Psalm Sing

Last Saturday, we had another psalm sing.  We've been having them more often lately; isn't that nice? :)

First, we reviewed the tune Sawley, which we also worked on in March.  The third line of the bass is tricky, so our bass singers spent some time figuring it out.  Once all of us had their part memorized, we sang the first six stanzas of Psalm 62 again.  I won't post that recording now, since it's much like the one I posted last month.

Next, we moved on to Golden Hill.  Golden Hill is a beautiful short meter tune, written down by Aaron Chapin in 1805.  The melody, they say, was inspired by the song of the wood thrush.  It's not in our psalters, so our first encounter with the tune was this recording by a young Scottish fellow.  Several of us (not just me!) quite like Golden Hill, and have been nagging politely suggesting for months that we do the tune at a psalm sing.  So we were delighted to finally sing it on Saturday.

Here's the recording for you.  The plan, last I heard, is to review this tune next month, since it is still very new to most of us.  Enjoy!

Psalm 25 v 15-22 (1st version) to Golden Hill

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On the Fellowship of the Saints

While I was at Leah's place watching her little ones as she was in the hospital after Preston's birth, I picked up a book that she had been reading (and I meant to keep your place, Leah, but lost it, sorry!)  She had been reading the "Memoir of the Rev. William C. Burns, Missionary to China," by his brother, Islay Burns.

As you may know, Rev. Burns was the minister who took Rev. Robert Murray Mc'Cheyne's pulpit in Dundee in 1839, while Rev. Mc'Cheyne traveled to Israel.  Under Rev. Burns' ministry, a great revival began, and much of the first half of the book is an account of that revival.

The book is very interesting and encouraging, and I would highly recommend it (though I haven't actually finished it--I have yet to read the part about Rev. Burns' missionary work in China).  You can read it for free on Google Books here.

An especially nice quote, from a letter Rev. Burns wrote to his sister:
The great fundamental error then, as far as I can see, in the economy of the Christian that of having too few and too short periods of solemn retirement with our gracious Father and his adorable Son Jesus Christ... 
The communion of the saints in Christian converse is indeed important, nay, indispensable to the growth of the new man when it can be obtained, but when is it sweet and soul-reviving but when each brings out into the common store something of the heavenly food which he has been gathering in the closet? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The last few days, I have really been enjoying this recording of Psalm 42 to Glenluce.  I hope you enjoy it too.

A number of people have been posting psalm recordings on lately.  I hope to post links to the best of them soon.

Friday, March 23, 2012

March Psalm Sing, and a Question

We had another psalm sing last Saturday.  I thought the singing sounded especially nice, though listening to the recordings, I'm not sure whether the singing was better than usual, or I just like the tunes more!

We practiced three tunes: Sheffield, Colchester, and Sawley.  You might recall that we've done Sheffield at a psalm sing before, but Jesh thought we could use some review.  I do think we sounded more confident with the tune this time around.  We also practiced Colchester--one of my favorites.  I like the way the first line marches downhill.  You wouldn't think a downhill tune could sound so triumphant, but it does!  It's a perfect fit for the second half of Psalm 46.  And we worked on Sawley, a more thoughtful tune, and one of my sister's favorites--a beautiful tune.

Here are the three recordings:

Psalm 22:22-26 to Sheffield

Psalm 46:7-11 to Colchester

Psalm 62:1-6 to Sawley

I hope you enjoy these recordings!

Now I have a question for you.  I know that a few of you are experts on Scottish psalm tunes.  I'm curious about the tune Gairloch.  I've heard about the tune's origins, but failed to write down the info at the time, so now of course I have forgotten the details.  I am wondering: who wrote the tune?  When was it composed?  Is it now in print or has it been in print?  Here in Texas we sing the tune with the parts that my mother wrote for it.  Do others use different harmonies, or do they generally just sing the melody line?  Thanks for any info that you can share!

P.s.  I know that I said, some time ago, that I would be making CDs of our psalm recordings.  I do still plan to do this at some point, but due to my busy schedule, I have had to postpone the task for the time being.  I'm sorry!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On Being An Aunt

My dear sister-in-law Leah looked so cute when she was pregnant.  I really wanted to get a photo of her, but the one time I remembered my camera, the battery died.  So you'll just have to take my word for it.  She carries her babies well. :)

But it's too late for pregnancy pictures now.  As I'm sure you all have heard, Caleb and Leah have been blessed with a beautiful baby boy.  :)  His name is Preston Caleb.  He is tiny and soft and perfect.  Leah looks great too.  Seems like she bounces back from pregnancy pretty quickly.  

While Leah was in the hospital, I got to help take care of her two daughters.  I enjoyed the bonding time!  It's hard sometimes to be a mother of two when I always dreamed of being a mother of many, but it is a great comfort to be an aunt to such beautiful nieces and nephews.  I hope to be blessed with many more nieces and nephews in the future.  May God bless all these little ones and bring them to Himself at an early age.

You may also have heard that Caleb was ill while in Scotland.  He got the flu (maybe the same nasty bug that I got back in December!  I can attest that it was awful!) followed by pneumonia and some drug-related complications.  He even ended up in the hospital at one point.  Thankfully, his roommates (fellow students), and others, helped to look after him, since his preferred caregiver (his wife, of course) was not available.

Once Caleb had recovered enough to fly, he returned to Texas, where the warmer climate will likely help him recover full strength in due time.  He is continuing his studies via correspondence.

I know that a post about a new baby really ought to include photos, but I don't have any yet. :)  I'll try to post some photos soon...err, at some point.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February Psalm Sing

I've got a lot of things to post but no time to post them!  I suppose I can at least post these psalm recordings, though.  I've got Noah on my lap trying to read what I type, which will slow me down a bit, but that's all right. :)

On Saturday we had another psalm sing.  We learned one less familiar tune, Rockingham, and sang two more familiar tunes, Arnold and Ballerma.  I was surprised to see quite a bit of resistance to the tune Ballerma.  It's a perfectly good tune, but apparently many of us are burnt out on it, due to its being over-used by various precentors in the past.  I guess it's important for precentors to learn and use a good range of tunes, huh?

Without further ado:

Psalm 13 to Ballerma

Psalm 45:1-6 to Arnold

Psalm 145:1-7 (2nd version) to Rockingham

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reminded by Communion

During the December communion season, as I listened to the preaching of our interim moderator from London, Rev. John MacLeod, I was reminded of what a blessing it is to belong to a church that is consistent.  We can welcome any given FP minister to our pulpit and be confident that we will hear the same sound doctrine that we hear from week to week.  We can travel to other FP congregations and experience the same sober, Biblical worship that we would experience in our home congregation.  This is a great comfort, and something I try to not take for granted.

During communion we had a houseguest, a woman from Africa who is currently a student in another part of Texas.  She is a member of one of our FP congregations in Zimbabwe.  We enjoyed getting to know her, and look forward to seeing her again from time to time over the next few years.  It was interesting to find how much we have in common despite being raised in very different parts of the world.  Much of what we have in common is due to our shared FP heritage.  I am reminded that true religion both transcends and molds culture.  "For ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Year, Again

A friend sent me this quote via Facebook, very appropriate for the new year, and I thought I would share with you all:

J. C. Ryle, in his book "Old Paths", in the chapter entitled "Forgiveness":
"We ought not to be satisfied with the same kind of hearing, and reading, and praying, which satisfied us in years gone by.  We ought to labour every year to throw more heart and reality into everything we do in our religion.  To love Christ more intensely, to abhor evil more thoroughly, to cleave to what is good more closely, to watch even our least ways more narrowly, to declare very plainly that we seek a country, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be clothed with him in every place, and company, to see more, to feel more, to know more, to do more, these ought to be our aims and desires every year we begin."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year! Some 2012 Goals

Happy new year!

I like new beginnings: the beginning of a new year, a new month, even a new week. I like the feeling of anticipation, and the idea of a "fresh start."

I've always enjoyed setting goals at the beginnings of new time periods.  This year is no different.  I've got a few things in mind that I'd like to accomplish in this new year, Lord willing.  Some of my goals are personal, or financial, or not easily quantifiable, and I won't share them here.  But two of my goals can be easily measured and reported on, so I'll share them with you in hopes that doing so will motivate me (it would be embarrassing to have to report failure!)

My first goal for 2012 is to finish memorizing the Shorter Catechism.  I think it's safe to say that I'm very familiar with the content of the Shorter Catechism, having been taught the doctrines contained in it from my youth, but I still don't know all the questions and answers by heart.  This year I'd like to finish memorizing the Catechism, perhaps with Elijah's help (he finished the catechism last summer, but could use some review).

My second goal for 2012 is to walk a mile a day.  I'd really rather be running, but the sad reality is that it's hard to find opportunities to run, given that my kids can't keep up with me (yet), and I have no one to watch them.  They can, however, walk with me.  They can handle up to a mile and a half at a moderate pace, and perhaps with practice they'll be able to go farther and faster.  So the goal is to walk 366 miles this year, or an average of a mile a day.  I'll record the miles I've walked in the sidebar of my blog.

I tried to walk a mile a day in December, actually, but failed miserably, only walking 8 miles the entire month!  I was quite sick with the flu, etc. for two weeks, but still, I could have walked more than I did.  To be honest, I kept forgetting.  Lame excuse, I know.

Are you making any New Year's Resolutions, or setting any goals?  Feel free to share!