Streams in the Desert by HC Cowman – Susan’s Newsletters 2006, 2008, 2009

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September 4, 2008 (Despair vs. Hope)
July 16 2009 Susan’s Newsletter (Can’t Pray or Too Tired to Pray)
June 18, 2009 Susan’s Newsletter (Faith defined and Peace from God during Grief)
July 1, 2006 Susan’s Newsletter (Comfort…written on 5th anniversary of my father’s death in an accident)
November 2, 2006 Susan’s Newsletter (Running with Patience – Moving On)
 
September 4, 2008 Susan’s Newsletter – Streams in the Desert by Cowman (Despair vs. Hope)

Good morning – I just finished the perfect filler/coffee combination cup of coffee with fog all around our home. Seeing Camden’s look when he saw the fog – I desire his amazement…his ability to not think about anything except the beauty of the moment. So much of his life amazement. This note is going to include writings from about five books on despair vs. hope. I have tried to decide what to take out, but am not going to…for I know that those of you that know others going through painful circumstances, the length will not matter, the content will. Again, below will show you the power of books, of finding authors that understand our circumstances…of seeing that even though our circumstances we go through alone, none of us are alone…

Yesterday I received a note from one of you letting me know of her recent diagnosis with brain cancer that is inoperable. I would like to write for you what I have marked in a few different books on despair. The first memory of despair is a memory of my mom telling me about the day that my dad died in a farm accident. She told us that on night as she went into her room she saw her daily devotional Streams in the Desert by LB Cowman. After a day of noise, chaos, profound loss she opened to June 1st. Here was the reading for her day of sorrow. Her day of choice – to look to the heavens for comfort or to despair.

June 1 entry, Streams in the Desert: Why do you worry? What possible use does your worrying serve? You are aboard such a large ship that you would be unable to steer even if your Captain placed you at the helm. You would not even be able to adjust the sails, yet you worry as if you were the captain or the helmsman of the vessel. Be quiet, dear soul – God is the Master! Do you think all the commotion and the uproar of this life is evidence that God has left His throne? He has not! His mighty steeds rush furiously ahead, and His chariots are the storms themselves. But the horses have bridles, and it is God who holds the reins, guiding the chariot as He wills. Our God Jehovah is still the Master. Believe this and you will have peace. “Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Charles H. Spurgeon

Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
The storms are raging on God’s deep –
God’s deep, not yours; be still and sleep.

Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s hands will still the Tempter’s sweep –
God’s hands, not yours; be still and sleep.

Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s love is strong while night hours creep –
God’s love, not yours; be still and sleep.

Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s heaven will comfort those who weep –
God’s heaven, not yours; be still and sleep.

I implore you not to give in to despair. It is a dangerous temptation, because our Adversary has refined it to the point that it is quite subtle. Hopelessness constricts and withers the heart, rendering it unable to sense God’s blessings and grace. It also causes you to exaggerate the adversities of life and makes your burdens seem too heavy for you to bear. Yet God’s plans for you, and His ways of bringing about His plans, are infinitely wise. Madame Guyon.

Another daily devotional book that I have marked on trusting God…God Calling by AJ Russell: Be calm, no matter what may befall you. Rest in Me. Be patient, and let patience have her perfect work. Never think things are overwhelming. how can you be overwhelmed when I am with you? Do not feel the strain of life. There is no strain for My children. Do you not see I am a Master Instrument Maker? Have I not fashioned each part? Do I not know just what it can bear without a strain? Would I, the maker of so delicate an instrument, ask of it anything that could destroy or strain? The strain.. is carrying two days’ burden on the one day.


Underneath are the Everlasting Arms – You cannot get below that. Rest in them, as a tired child rests. All power is given unto Me..I cannot withhold it from the soul that dwells near Me, because it is then not a gift, but passes insensibly from Me to My disciples. It is breathed in by the soul who lives in My Presence. Learn to shut yourself away in My Presence – and then, without speaking, you have those things you desire of Me, Strength – Power – Joy – Riches. (On the bulletin for my mom’s funeral we wrote an excerpt of what she had written a week before her death on this same promise. She wrote six days before her body giving in to her cancer…”I was distraught (on hearing of my diagnosis)…I told God I didn’t have any more faith or strength. He said it was not my faith, but who he is. Psalm 91:1 came to me: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” I cried and said, “Look what happened to Ken and he was abiding in your secret place.” The verse came to me, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” I prayed the Lord’s prayer and kept repeating verses. I received peace that night and it has not left me.”

(more from God Calling…) I am your Guide. Do not want to see the road ahead. Go just one step at a time. I very rarely grant the long vista to My disciples, especially in personal affairs, for one step at a time is the best way to cultivate Faith. But I am with you. It was when the disciples gave up effort after a night of fruitless fishing that I came. Literally, you have to depend on Me for everything – everything. It was out of the depths that David cried unto Me, and I heard his voice, All is well. Think of the multitudes, who thronged Me, when I was on earth, all eager for something. Eager to be healed, or taught, or fed. Think as I supplied their many wants, and granted their manifold requests, what it meant to Me, to find amid the crowd, some one or two, who followed Me just to be near Me, just to dwell in My Presence. How some longing of the Eternal Heart was satisfied thereby. Comfort Me, awhile, by letting Me know that you would seek Me just to dwell in My Presence, to be near Me, not even for teaching, not for material gain,.. not even for a message – but for Me. The longing of the human heart to be loved for itself is a something caught from the Great Divine Heart. (Another book I am now reminded of with that thought of God desiring our relationship…A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God by Cynthia Heald. She writes a poem at the beginning of the book of a dialogue between a woman and God. She speaks, “Who will join us in life?” God’s response…”Joy and Sorrow.” Her cry, “But I only want Joy…” God’s answer… (take pride if you’re suffering…) “Those that suffer know me more (a privilege).” (I don’t have the copy of the book with me at home right now, but that is the paraphrase of the dialogue).

Let me follow up with more of the book I wrote on two weeks ago, Firstlight by Sue Monk Kidd. “What do you want?” I asked [my son]. “Nothing,” he said. “I just want to be with you.” He laid his head on my arm, content to be near me, to curl up in my circle of lamplight and be in my presence. The most beautiful prayer is to sit with God in that way. To pray, not because I want something, not because I’m in trouble again, but because I simply want to be close.

This next part is what I was going to write on this week before getting the e-mail on the diagnosis. On moving into what is unseen in our lives… from Firstlight also. I recall a dot-to-dot picture…The child had created the picture by moving his pencil from dot to dot, one at a time. It comforts me to know that when I can’t see the whole picture, all I really need is to see the next dot.

(on hope, persistence)…I came upon an unusual boulder towering at the water’s edge. There was a hole through the center, so large that the rock resembled a hoop. How peculiar, I thought. However did it get that way? As I watched the water splash against the rock – wave after wave, spilling through the opening – I realized that it was not the water but the persistence of the sea that had made a way through the impossible. Walking on, I thought how easily I had sometimes given up on problems or dreams that had seemed too hard, too impenetrable. Persistent love. Persistent hope. Persistent effort. The mystery of overcoming often lay in the simple rhythmic act of keeping at it.

And one more book that I’ve underlined points on hope vs. despair, Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance by Joseph Marshall (Indian Wisdom)… At many places along our journey we reach a moment of choice. We must remind ourselves that the choices we have made have brought us to this moment. We must further remind ourselves that quitting, stopping, or giving in is a choice and not mandatory, no matter how seductive the voice of weariness may be…it’s more important that you simply take the steps, one after another…that one more step will take us beyond where we were, somewhere, anywhere, ahead whether by a hairsbreadth or an arm’s length does not matter…There are things other than death that can take away our will to go on…like despair, because nothing can cripple us more than the loss of hope. Weariness may and does, attack our body and mind. But despair takes aim at the soul…the person who does not give in to despair will not long be deterred by defeat, nor weighted down by the memory of it. How does despair know where to find us? Because it dwells within us – not in a place but in a moment when our spirits are weakened because circumstances seem hopeless. Then it appears. Despair may dwell within us, but so does hope, the way to defeat it. Hope can defeat despair.

Remember that in our language Grandfather also refers to the Great Power others call God. That Grandfather is all around. He is in the storm that challenges you, and in the strength that enables you to face it. He is that whisper of hope against despair, and the sunshine on your face when you meet each new day. He is there with you in your victories and embraces you when you suffer defeat. He was there when you came into this world to begin this journey, and He will be there when you leave it to begin your next one.

The peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4). How often I quote that promise. Beyond the understanding you even can comprehend before you ask God for it. Remember the comment my mom made of her idea of heaven after dad died? I cannot imagine what heaven is like – if God could create the immense beauty of Hawaii…can you even imagine what it is like in heaven? Where he lives?!?!? We can not fear death. Eternity’s view. We must keep our perspective. No matter our loss of what we leave on earth, the immediate step into God’s presence is the most powerful moment of our existence. The most beautiful moment of our life. Peace. Peace we can not even imagine.

Our choice. Our choice to despair. No matter our circumstances. No stress in our life is insignificant. Death or sickness is not the only way to be in the presence of God. He seeks us to desire to just want to be with him. As our children want to just have us in the same room. Intimacy. Death will only bring the intimacy of us into his room. We are the child. We will be at the greatest peace of our life when we are in his presence. I hope this didn’t go too long. I don’t know what to take out. One day at a time. That’s all we need to do. Dot to dots. Just look for the next dot, not for the entire picture of what our lives will become. Susan

Works Cited:
Cowman, Lettie B., James Reimann, and Charles E. Cowman. Streams in the Desert : 366 Daily Devotional Readings. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.
Heald, Cynthia. A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God. Nashville. Nelson Publishing. 2000.
Kidd, Sue Monk. Firstlight: The Early Inspirational Writings. New York. Penguin Putnam. 2006.
Marshall, Joseph M. Keep Going : The Art of Perseverance. Grand Rapids: Sterling Co., Inc., 2006
Russell, A.J. God Calling. Uhrichsville, Ohio. Barbour Publishing. 1954.
July 16 2009 Susan’s Newsletter – Streams in the Desert by Cowman and Villette by Charlotte Bronte
 
Good morning!   Do you hear the birds already singing for you?  I thought the morning was all greetings this morning until I glanced near my sink and saw my only plant I’m responsible drooping and glaring at me….goodness, just one plant in my charge, and you should see it….shall I give it a little of my coffee for caffeine?  Would that cheer the little friend up?!?!  This week I have been reading a novel that has been difficult to get through, Villette by Charlotte Bronte.  I knew nothing about this book, but saw it at a great little bookstore in Aurora in the classics section & liked the cover (grin).  The book was first published in 1853 (isn’t that amazing?!?) on different characters and situations in a woman’s life – as she taught at a boarding school in a town named Villette.  There are over 500 pages of descriptions of people in her life, scenes with specific details written, and dialogues that need uninterrupted reading time to follow….I’ve made it to page 280 & here are some of the paragraphs I’ve underlined…hoping that you would be able to appreciate what she was trying to get her readers to think about as she formed her characters and their discussions throughout Lucy Snowe’s (the main character’s) life.
 
Friend or relative that we feel the most comfortable with in silence (when we hurt)… I really like how Charlotte Bronte describes a woman in her life – a woman that she felt completely at ease with in her sickness.  She does not demean her other close friends, but she acknowledges the fact that only a few would we want near us at our lowest.  Who do you think of when you read this? 
Now it is not everybody, even amongst our respected friends and esteemed acquaintance, whom we like to have near us, whom we like to watch us, to wait on us, to approach us with the proximity of a nurse to a patient.  It is not every friend whose eye is a light in a sick room, whose presence is there a solace: but all this was Mrs. Bretton to me; all this she had ever been.  Food or drink never pleased me so well as when it came through her hands.  I do not remember the occasion when her entrance into a room had not made that room cheerier.  Our natures own predilections and antipathies alike strange.  There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we would personally avoid, though reason confesses that they are good people: there are others with faults of temper, & c., evident enough, beside whom we live content, as if the air about them did us good. 
 
On letting go of what we cannot control – willing to let God’s timing be accepted:  I especially like the line “not your hour”…when we will see the entire scene…
 
When you can’t pray (not sure how to put what you are thinking into actually words/thoughts), or are too tired to pray.  I read this out of Streams in the Desert (daily devotional from the early 1900’s) and really liked the analogy of a baby being cared for deeply by the mother compared to our not having the ability to pray.  I had just read Charlotte Bronte’s advice on prayer to her friend on talking to God.  This was an interesting opposite idea – on not knowing how, or having the ability of forming thoughts for prayer.
 
I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray, Said I, as my overtaxed strength gave way.
The one conscious thought that my mind possessed, Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.
 
Will God forgive me, do you suppose, If I go right to sleep as a baby goes,
Without questioning if I may, Without even trying to trust and pray?
 
Will God forgive you? Think back, dear heart, When language to you was an unknown art,
Did your mother deny you needed rest, Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?
 
Did she let you want when you could not ask?  Did she give her child an unequal task?
Or did she cradle you in her arms, And then guard your slumber against alarms?
 
Oh, how quickly a mother’s love can see, The unconscious yearnings of infancy.
When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray, When overworked nature has quite given way:
 
Then just drop it all, and give up to rest, As you used to do on mother’s breast,
He knows all about it – the dear Lord knows, So just go to sleep as a baby goes;
 
Without even asking if you may, God knows when His child is too tired to pray.
He judges not solely by uttered prayer, He knows when the yearnings of love are there.
 
He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust, And He knows, too, the limits of poor, weak dust.
Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ, For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst,
 
When He told them, “Sleep and take your rest,” While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed –
You have trusted your life to Him to keep, Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.
                                                                            Ella Conrad Cowherd
 
Thank you for letting me write for you – for giving me suggestions on what to read that will be worth writing on…for coming into the store and showing me what’s made a difference to you.  Books….writings…sentences…thoughts – they change us…change the way we see our situations….help us to see that others before us have been where we are….writing so we can have the shared companionship of someone else knowing what we are thinking, experiencing, wondering, questioning…authors – our unknown friends that change us.  Pick up a new book – make sure it is worth your time…let’s not live our lives on trivial details – but making decisions all day that will be worth recording on our epitaph each evening – our epitaph for the time that will never be given another chance…the time on the clock used that day.  Have a great rest of the week!  Look up or fall to your knees…your help is there regardless if you know what words to speak.  Thanks for letting me enter your Thursday again.  I hope I’m working when you come shopping or for a great cup of coffee!  Susan
 

 


 
Latin for this week:   caelitus mihi vires – My strength is from heaven
 
Works Cited:
Bronte, Charlotte.  Villette.  New York.  Penguin Putnam.  2004.
Cowman, L.B.  Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings.  Grand Rapids.  Zondervan.  1997.

June 18, 2009 Susan’s Newsletter – Faith Defined and Peace from God during Grief
 
Good morning!!!  Is it possible that summer & sunshine & swimming & complaining about the heat & seeing corn grow is finally coming this week!??!?  (Yes, I know that I’m supposed to list with commas!)  Last Saturday I picked up the daily devotional that I’ve written to you out of before.  I was given this journal by my mom & have not found any daily devotional more effective in giving verses, hymns, poems, and quotes showing God’s care for me in my day to day life.  Especially in cares and pain.  I’d like to write for you June 13’s entry from Streams in the Desert by LB. Cowman (first published in 1925).   I have never really thought about the word “faith” and this is what I read:
 
My peace I give you.  (John 14:27)
 
Two painters were once asked to paint a picture illustrating his own idea of rest.  The first chose for his scene a quiet, lonely lake, nestled among mountains far away.  The second, using swift, broad strokes on his canvas, painted a thundering waterfall.  Beneath the falls grew a fragile birch tree, bending over the foam.  On its branches, nearly wet with the spray from the falls, sat a robin on its nest…
 
Rest is not some holy feeling that comes upon us in church.  It is a state of calm rising from a heart deeply and firmly established in God.    (Henry Drummond)
 
My times I give in times of deepest grief,
imparting calm and trust and My relief.
 
My peace I give when prayers seems lost, unheard;
Know that My promises are ever in My Word.
 
My peace I give when you are left alone –
The nightingale at night has sweetest tone.
 
My peace I give in times of utter loss,
The way of glory leads right to the cross.
 
My peace I give when enemies will blame,
Your fellowship is sweet through cruel shame.
 
My peace I give in agony and sweat,
For My own brow with bloody drops was wet.
 
My peace I give when nearest friend betrays –
Peace that is merged in love, and for them prays.
 
My peace I give when there’s but death for thee-
The gateway is the cross to get to me. (L.S.P.)
 
Then I went to the index of the devotional and looked up “faith” – January 4th entry that has been in my head all week:
When you are confronted with a matter that requires immediate prayer, pray until you believe God – until with wholehearted sincerity you can thank Him for the answer.  If you do not see the external answer immediately, do not pray for it in such a way that it is evident you are not definitely believing God for it.  This type of prayer will be a hindrance instead of a help to you.  And when you are finished praying, you will find that your faith has been weakened or has entirely gone…never pray in a way that diminishes your faith.  Prayers that empty us of faith deny both God’s promises from his Word and the “Yes” that he whispered to our hearts.  Such prayers are only the expression of the unrest of our hearts, and unrest implies unbelief that our prayers will be answered.   “Now we who have believed enter that rest.”  (Hebrews 4;3)
 
The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.  (George Mueller)
 
I remember Anne Lindberg made a comment in one of her diaries that through the loss of her toddler from the kidnapping her greatest fear was that she “lost her faith.” 
 
June 12 had one more poem that I can’t leave out. 
 
Is it raining, little flower?  Be glad of rain;
Too much sun would wither one; It will shine again.
The clouds are very dark, it’s true; But just behind them shines the blue.
 
Are you weary, tender heart?  Be glad of pain: In sorrow, sweetest virtues grow, As flowers in rain.
God watches, and you will have sun, When clouds their perfect work have done.  (Lucy Larcom)
 
Have a great week, trying, along with me, to learn the meaning of faith and to find peace as the robin did under her waterfall.  Not by finding somewhere secluded and quiet, but by knowing, through faith, that your life is in the care of a God that is holding your hand.  Thank you for letting me send you my thoughts this week.  Go take on your day – make decisions only you know you make that cause you pride when you lay (or is it lie, grin!) down tonight.  Susan
 

 


Latin for this week:  Have Faith – Fidem habe
 
 
 
 
July 1, 2006 (Comfort) – Entry on the 5th anniversary of my father’s accident and death.
Good morning! Today is a day of mixed emotions for me – 6 years ago this morning my dad died.  It’s incredible the power of the subconscious to replay events and memories all night long, when you try to just go to sleep! What I have found is that everyone has a story – either personal or a friend that is hurting.   I would like to tell you just a few verses that I go over & over again in my mind that give me peace & comfort.  I hope that they will help you when you need them. 
 
I overheard Camden telling our neighbor, “My grandpa got smashed and then he GOT to touch God’s hand.” I just had to smile.  First of all where he got the idea smashed is beyond me – he wasn’t the least concerned with that description – he loves trauma in his stories (Buzz Lightyear, Rescue Heroes, etc.), but then to use the verb “GOT” just struck me.  I couldn’t figure out where he got that image either, then realized that there is a song that he listens to of my dad’s voice on a recording singing, “But just think of stepping on shore & finding it heaven.  Of touching a hand and finding it God’s.” This just shows how much these little children absorb without us telling them.  Those we lose GET so much that we can only dream of! Here are a few verses that you may be able to use that have helped me through the loss of my parents:
Psalm 116 You, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears (I love that line!), my feet from stumbling.  When I was in great need, he saved me. 
 
      vs. 7: Be at rest once more, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. 

Psalm 18: 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of my; he drew me out of deep waters.  vs 18: but the Lord was my support.  He rescued me because he delighted in me. 
There are just too many to put here, but if you’d like some more of my favorite verses & songs, just let me know.
My mom gave me a devotional called Streams in the Desert.  This is the most comforting daily book of thoughts & prayers for anyone experiencing grief or hard experiences to deal with.  I try to always have a copy at the store if you would like to see it to use for yourself or as a gift.  I hope you are able to take time to sit alone to read & reflect.  May you have a beautiful weekend – and a fun month of June!  Thank you so much for your business & support! Susan
 
 
November 2, 2006 Newsletter
Running with Patience
 
And now, onward with what I’ve been reading! I would like to write out for you what I read this week in Streams in the Desert, the daily devotional book that my mom gave me after Dad died. I know that many of you deal with many different situations that make it difficult to want to begin each day. May this reading give you the encouragement that I was given. (Oct. 30 reading):
 
Hebrews 12:1  Let us run with patience.  Running “with patience” is a very difficult thing to do.  The word “running” itself suggests the absence of patience, or an eagerness to reach the goal.  Yet we often associate patience with lying down or standing still…There is another kind of patience that I believe is harder to obtain – the patience that runs.  Lying down during a time of grief, or being quiet after a financial setback, certainly implies great strength, but I know of something that suggests even greater strength – the power to continue working after a set-back, the power to still run with a heavy heart, and the power to perform your daily tasks with deep sorrow in your spirit.
 
Many of us could tearlessly deal with our grief if only we were allowed to do so in private.  Yet what is so difficult is that most of us are called to exercise our patience not in bed but in the open street, for all to see.  We are called upon to bury our sorrows not in restful inactivity but in active service – in our workplace, while shopping, and during social events – contributing to other people’s joy.  No other way of burying our sorrow is as difficult as this, for it is truly what is meant by running “with patience”.
 
When all our hopes are gone,
It is best our hands keep toiling on For others’ sake:
For strength to bear is found in duty done;
And he is best indeed who learns to make
The joy of others cure his own heartache.
 
I want to encourage you, in whatever life is bringing you this week, to run “with patience” – to find those who need you, to bring joy to others.  You will make it!  I promise you!  Just run!!!  Thanks so much for your notes, encouragement, and business.  We love being here & couldn’t be without you!  Susan
Works Cited:
Cowman, Lettie B., James Reimann, and Charles E. Cowman. Streams in the Desert : 366 Daily Devotional Readings. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.