Saturday, December 31, 2016

My 2016 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

I truly enjoyed participating in the 2016 Reading Challenge from My achievement level in number of book categories completed was certainly mediocre, but each book that I read for the list was enriching. I realized my personal bias toward certain genres when confronted with "A book about a current issue" ("Oh, please no!" I often read to escape) or "A book published in 2016" (I prefer books published nearer to 1916 and rarely buy new books) - and I never did get around to reading a book in either of those categories.

As a non-competitive free spirit, I indulged in books that just wouldn't fit into a category on the challenge list - "A book for children" was checked early in the year, but many subsequent evenings found me curled up with another nice little piece of juvenile fiction that didn't fit any of the other check boxes. Looking back, I realize that I didn't allow the reading challenge to stretch and mature me to the extent that I could have, and if I do something like this again, I will try harder to branch out of my comfort zone of Spurgeon and Dickens and try "A graphic novel" or "A book on the current New York Times list of bestsellers". But very few categories were skipped out of indifference. Most of the list was not completed for lack of time. I look wistfully still at "A book by Francis Schaeffer" and "A book with at least 400 pages" never completed. Maybe I will keep the list going until it is all three years perhaps.

Here, though, are twenty-seven books that I did complete, and my brief reflections on them.

~ A book about Christian living - Future Grace by John Piper
I completed this book early in the year as I neared the end of pregnancy with our second child. The winter was cold, we had recently moved, I was often unwell, and the pregnancy went long overdue. Future Grace encouraged me immensely many afternoons spent on the couch while our son napped. It was just what I needed to help me carry on - whatever happens, your covenant-keeping God will be there for you. Thank God for books like this.

~ A biography - John Bunyan - Tinker of Bedford by William Deal
Written for middle-schoolers and published by a homeschool curriculum company, this was not a typical grown-up biography, but it made John Bunyan's life more real to me and filled my heart with wonder at the grace of God to this man so humble and weak, yet so greatly used for good.

~ A classic novel - Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
This category was not hard to complete, but it was hard to choose! My husband came to my assistance as I stood staring at the bookcase - "Read Robinson Crusoe - you can't get more classic than that!" I was glad I read it - I hadn't realized what a strong Christian message it contained. Crusoe's journey to faith in the God who ruled over even the worst tragedies of his life resounded with true Christian experience. It was encouraging! Besides that, just about anyone enjoys the classic adventure tale of survival by resourcefulness and perseverance in dire circumstances.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Wonder of Christmas Love

Nearly every Advent season, I find, with almost incredulous surprise, that there is another layer of wonder, another beam of glory to see in the familiar story of the incarnation. Sometimes there are several lessons of love and beauty to learn in one season. Isn't that why we take more than a day to celebrate?

There was the glimpse I had of Christ's mighty condescension when I lay on the couch, shaking with fever and chills from one of those friendly seasonal flus, feeling as miserable as all get out, and I looked over at the nativity scene on the shelf, nestled under the big, glad banner of "Joy to the world, the Lord has come!" All I could think in my illness was "Why did you come, Jesus?...It is just so bad down here. But you came..." Dirt. Disease. Discomfort. Death. Why did you do it, Jesus? How could you ever bring yourself to come? The answer was a glimpse of love far larger than I have ever felt in my own heart. So in the midst of the misery I saw the depth of his love and adored.

Adoration of the Magi
Then there is the story of the three wise men from the east. The line on a Christmas card - "We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" has been turning over and over in my mind. Why did they do it? Was there a command, an injunction? Mary and Joseph would never have gone to Bethlehem if Caesar had not issued a decree. They were obligated, so they went, and through it prophecy was fulfilled. But these wise men - they are becoming a wonder to me. They heard news, an almost magical announcement of the birth of a King, and for them, the only reasonable option was to pack their bags and go, onward and onward until they could find and worship Him. It was as if to worship the King sent from Heaven was the consummation of all their life's work and all their heart's desire. We take for granted the story that they went. But they went. Not the twenty minute drive to church, but the twenty month march over the desert. They knew, like we forget, that to worship the Divinity is the highest joy and privilege of human existence.

This season, the lessons I have been learning perhaps reflect my weariness as a mother of little ones, longing for peace and quiet, and for those moments when I needn't be bothered. These are riches to me these days, and so I was able to see in the Christmas story, the sacrifice of these things as beautiful. Love is a willingness to be bothered, perhaps infinitely bothered. Jesus loved us, and so He bothered to come and lay down all comfortable things for us. The wise men loved Jesus, and so they bothered to leave home to behold Him and adore. This love makes Christmas beautiful. This love thrills my heart and calls me to run onward in the path of love with Jesus, who has come to us, to never, ever leave.

Let Thy love, my soul’s chief treasure,
Love’s pure flame within me raise;
And, since words can never measure,
Let my life show forth Thy praise.
~ Francis Scott Key

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What To Do, What To Do?

If news media reports, television announcements, and social media trending topics could be weighed in a balance, I wonder what the daily tonnage would be? Surely it would be a weight too burdensome to be borne. Even the fraction of the stuff that the average American tends to gather for their sack of daily worries is too heavy for my taste, so I try to accumulate as small a load as possible. But I still end up on many days with a chunk of discouraging information about the state of things...and oh, what to do with it? Especially for mothers, every bit of baddish news adds a weight of care to our concern for our children. What do I do as a mother with another piece of news that reminds me what a dangerous, broken world I will have to send my child to face? I don't have to list the variety of depressing issues available for us to consider - anyone reading this probably knows them all too well. 

But to make the illustration concrete, here is a piece of something I happened to pick up yesterday from a Washington Post article on Trump attacking someone on Twitter - "Her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature." One thinks, Ah, poor lady! but a mother thinks, How awful that our nation is increasingly full of predators, and I have this sweet baby girl - oh God, help! Mamas know this thought sequence really well. But I paused in my sorrowful prayer and thought What DO I do? What do I want for my children? This world is just going to be nasty until Jesus comes back, and I can't always protect my children. What do I seek for them? What can I give them? and the words came to my mind - "Holding fast to the word of life (Php. 2:16)." Yes. Yes! This is what I want for them. This is what I will labor to give them and pray to see made real in them - the truth about God, the gospel of Jesus, the whole counsel of Scripture, the grand, sweet promises, the unshakable hope, the words that bring life to the soul, that sustain the believer through every trial and carry them onward to Heaven, that nothing on earth can take away from them. Truly, if the bad things on the news happened to my children - and yet, they held fast to the word of life - it would be enough.

Yes, the worst could happen - that a child does not hold to the word of life. But the battle cry of every mother's heart should be, Not if I can help it! Or for the more vigorous among us, Over my dead body! This is done, not simply by force-feeding the tots a pile of memory verses -though that doesn't much hurt! - but pressing into the solid comfort of the Word of God myself. I can't give what I don't have. But when it comes to what to do with 'the stuff out there', I can use those heavy lumps of bad news, and plunk them down on the lever of my determination to hold fast to the word of life before my children - to know and cherish the word of God for myself, and so doing to set it more faithfully before them. To use another metaphor - the colder the thermometer drops outside, the more wood you throw on the fire. Let me be found strengthening my soul with the Word of God, and when my children need strength, it will be the first thing I give them.

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:13-16 ESV)

Art ~ Munkácsy, Mihály, Woman Carrying Faggot, 1873

Consider the other side of the battle on The Impossible Goal.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Wonder of Ancient Things

Notes from my recent read-through of Geoffrey Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain: 

Ancient - truly ancient - history, has the potential of providing its students with a profound sense of smallness upon the stage of the universe as well as wonderfully tingly feelings of discovery - "Oh, I never knew that!" Knowledge is a great treasure. Knowledge of things far, far past has a unique value, because it is, as it were, dug from a very deep mine, and one feels privileged to glimpse such heavily unearthed treasure in the light of the reading chair lamp. Also, the more ancient the people and events, the more one feels in learning of them that here we are getting to the root of things and the beginning of the matter, and so everything begins to make more sense. Those are some of the impressions I received from reading Monmouth.

Some lessons:

First, the historical timeline - here I was blown away (all those tingly feelings): The poet Homer was an approximate contemporary to the prophet Samuel. And good old King Lear of Shakespearean fame, was a real king (so says Monmouth, and I rather believe him) - contemporary with the prophet Isaiah! As a newcomer to the study of really old history, I never realized that any history of our western tradition went so very far back into the days of the Old Testament. This did not make the Bible any more believable to me than it already is, but it made it feel closer, like the constant breeze of the sea suddenly blowing through a crack in the wall and giving you goosebumps. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Five of the Ninety-Five Theses

The circumstances that fueled Luther's writing of ninety-five theses were the prevalent selling of indulgences - forgiveness of sins to be bought for money - and that less in the interest of God's people than in the interest of church finances. Medieval church fund-raisers at their finest and worst. What better way to fill up the church building fund than by playing off the very real desire of people to be rid of guilt? That made Luther, this pious Catholic monk mad. So he wrote about it. Here are five of the ninety-five theses. You can read all of them here.

1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ``Repent'' (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.

37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters. 

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.

62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.

Read all of Luther's 95 theses here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


A friend recently shared with me a radio website that still airs the old Gateway to Joy programs. Today I listened to the first one I'd heard probably since my mother played them on the radio during my childhood. It was sweet to be listening now as a mother, especially while holding the late speaker's tiny namesake, Esther Elisabeth, in my arms. The conversation was so rich, I will surely be going back for more - it was like finding a pearl in the first shell one opens, and the pearl was mostly a poem by Sara Teasdale that was read aloud. The poem spoke of how a husband lives in his wife's heart. I looked it up immediately to save in my lessons blog, but the vivid imagery is already etched into my mind. Is it changing the way I think, or did it only give fresh words to what I do think? Perhaps it was both - poetry is good like that.

by Sara Teasdale.

Never think she loves him wholly,
Never believe her love is blind,
All his faults are locked securely
In a closet of her mind;
All his indecisions folded
Like old flags that time has faded,
Limp and streaked with rain,
And his cautiousness like garments
Frayed and thin, with many a stain -

Let them be, oh, let them be,
There is treasure to outweigh them,
His proud will that sharply stirred,
Climbs as surely as the tide,
Senses strained too taut to sleep,
Gentleness to beast and bird,
Humor flickering hushed and wide
As the moon on moving water,
And a tenderness too deep
To be gathered in a word.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Such is our God

I have been following this year the 2016 Reading Challenge from Challies blog, and enjoying it immensely. "A book about theology" is sixth on the list, so I browsed our shelves to see what we already have and decided on The Sovereignty of God by A. W. Pink.

Reading this book has helped me in this season of life, as a multitude of cares - from fretting babies to unprincipled politicians - continually threaten my peace of mind. These two paragraphs on God's sovereignty over mankind I found especially strengthening:

"We read the Scriptures in vain if we fail to discover that the actions of men, evil men as well as good, are governed by the Lord God. Nimrod and his fellows determined to erect the tower of Babel, but ere their task was accomplished God frustrated their plans. Jacob was the child to whom the inheritance was promised, and though Isaac sought to reverse Jehovah's decree and bestow the blessing upon Esau, his efforts came to naught. Esau swore vengeance upon Jacob, but when they next met they wept for joy instead of fighting in hate. The brethren of Joseph determined his destruction, but their evil counsels were overthrown.  Pharaoh refused to let Israel carry out the instructions of Jehovah, and perished in the Red Sea for his pains. Balak hired Balaam to curse the Israelites, but God compelled him to bless them. Haman erected a gallows for Mordecai but was hanged upon it himself. Jonah resisted the revealed will of God, but what became of his efforts?
Ah, the heathen may 'rage' and the people imagine a 'vain thing'; the kings of the earth may 'set themselves,' and the rulers take counsel against the Lord and against His Christ, saying 'Let us break Their bands asunder and cast away Their cords from us' (Ps 2:1-3). But is the great God perturbed or disturbed by the rebellion of His puny creatures? No, indeed: 'He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: The Lord shall have them in derision' (ver. 4). He is infinitely exalted above all, and the greatest confederacies of earth's pawns, and their most extensive and vigorous preparations to defeat his purpose are, in His sight, altogether puerile. He looks upon their puny efforts, not only without any alarm, but He 'laughs' at their folly; He treats their impotency with 'derision.' He knows that he can crush them like moths when he pleases, or consume them in a moment with the breath of His mouth. Ah, it is but 'a 'vain thing' for the potsherds of the earth to strive with the glorious Majesty of Heaven. Such is our God; worship ye Him."

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Prayer for Our Town

Every time I go to the local grocery store, or the library, or just about anywhere that isn't going back over the border into Virginia, I have to drive past a disturbing assortment of "gentleman's clubs" (oh so un-aptly named!) locally known as strip clubs, as well as the adult store, pubs and other questionable establishments. Giving thanks that my little ones in the backseat can't read signs yet, I also feel burdened to pray and to act toward our nearest town's great traffic in sin.

What can one tired, hands-full mama do? Praying is a lot. I asked the ladies at our small group to pray with me and listening to one of them pray, I realized that she was latching on to specific requests for different people involved, and that I needed to do the same. I started crafting a prayer, with a dream to print and post on every public bulletin board and church resource table in town. "Take one and pray with me wherever you are at 8pm" or something like that. But for now, it's starting right here with me.

A Prayer for Our Town

God, we confess that we are a people who follow our selfish desires more than love for our neighbor. We have thought, spoken and acted in ways that are unclean and dishonoring to you. We have not done what we should. We pray that you would cleanse us and change our hearts.

We pray that you would bring righteousness to this town, specifically that you would shut down the strip clubs in our town, where your glory and honor are despised. Turn the hearts of each club manager to do right, and to help our community instead of harming it.

We pray that you would provide club dancers and other troubled women in our town with good, better jobs, that you would cleanse them, restore them, and show them your mercy and love. Lord, deliver them!

We pray that you would turn the hearts of men to their wives and families, to love women instead of lusting for them, to build up what is broken in their lives and to seek you above all. Give us whole families who will love and serve you.

We pray that you would turn the hearts of every man, woman and child in this town to You.  

All this is a work that only You can do, so that is why we ask You to do it in the name of Jesus 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Baby's Daily Lesson - 1 minute Bible Overview

Babies, even before they can speak or understand many words, beg with their sweet faces to be spoken to. In addition to the usual, "Aren't-you-just-a-sweet-lil-muffin-darling-baby?", I thought it would be good to incorporate a distinct mini body of truth into the daily chatter. A straight Scripture passage like Psalm 23, Psalm 1 or other texts are wonderful, as well as hymns, but I wanted something that comprised key points of the Bible's story without being a whole catechism, mostly comprised of key verses that I know from memory. Probably a dozen more combinations could be made that are good, but this is the one that I have started using. and it brings such joy and encouragement to my own heart as I get my daily gospel history fly-over.

Who made you, Baby?
God made me!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned - every one - to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold the new has come!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more.

And He who was seated on the throne said, "Behold I am making all things new!"

Genesis 1;1
Genesis 1:27
Psalm 100:3
Isaiah 53:6
Romans 3:23
Acts 10:40
John 3:16
2 Cor. 5:17
Revelation 21:1, 5

All Scripture from the English Standard Version

Monday, July 25, 2016

This Too Will Be For Good

When I was a freshman in college, I experienced the typical reaction to the first week of classes - often called "syllabus shock" - how would I ever be able to muster the time and mental resources to complete this enormous load of assignments just presented to me? Stressed and anxious, I took the matter to the Lord, praying for help. The truth that he opened to my fretful heart in those first weeks was that though I had trusted him for my financial needs, I had not learned to trust him for those less tangible matters of energy and time, yet these were just as much in his power to provide as the other. I was enabled to begin trusting that these too would be given to me for the asking - and they were.

This lesson often pictures to me what it is like to face a new lesson of faith. I must learn to trust my God in all things, and not just in the places where I have grown familiar with seeing His hand. I think this is a lesson that I and many of my fellow believers will have to learn as we look at our nation and are tempted to despair. 

I wonder how many of us are thinking something like, "Well, I know God is in charge, but this is going to be terrible"? Having a bad president may be terrible, but a dozen other things one may meet in this fallen world may terrible, while "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" This ugly scary state of things is the very place for us to firmly believe that God is good to His people. Do I believe that "In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose" is more deep and solid than our nation's foundations? Do I believe that if the nation falls into the hands of unprincipled tyrants, despite all we can do as faithful citizens, it is just a new step in the lessons of faith our Father has for us between here and Heaven? 

There is a pervasive sense that we are entering bad times in our country. Maybe this is true. But I think there is a place for a bolder faith that can look straight in the face of the dreadful political reports and sing - 

"Ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessing on your head!"

Yes, our God is "He who disciplines the nations" (Psalm 94:10 ESV), which is a fearful thing for America. But God has also promised His children regarding the painful discipline they undergo (surely even if they must pass through the discipline of their nation at large) - "later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Heb 12:11 ESV). For a nation it may be judgment, but for the believers in it, it may be a wholesome training with sweet fruit. This is a good thing.

So here's to faith in 2016 - faith that God's promises are better than the U. S. Constitution, and more sure and everlasting - faith that loving and obeying God will still be the path of ultimate blessing for His children, whether or not God blesses America nationally. Faith is God's great gift to us on the way to Heaven - and that is our better country.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Impossible Goal

I realized keenly yesterday, that my ultimate goal in parenting is utterly impossible for me to achieve. Perhaps I knew it before in theory, but I now I feel it to be true, because I have seen it in reality and have been freshly confronted with it from Scripture. Training, discipline, consequences and all the structures I build into my children's daily routine are good and necessary for molding their behavior, but none of it can give them what I desire for them - a regenerate heart. 

This struck me while I was listening to a recording of J. C. Ryle's thoughts on Matthew 22:34-46, in which Jesus answers the question, "What is the greatest commandment?" by giving the commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. Ryle applied this to teaching children:

None work so well as those who work out of love. The fear of punishment, or the desire of reward, are principles of far less power. They do the will of God best, who do it from the heart. Would we train children right? Let us teach them to love God.
Love is the grand secret of right behavior towards our FELLOW MEN. He who loves his neighbor will scorn to do him any willful injury, either in person, property, or character. But he will not rest there. He will desire in every way to do him good....Would we teach children to behave aright towards others? Let us teach them to love everybody as themselves, and do to others as they would have others do to them.
But how shall we obtain this love towards GOD? It is no natural feeling. We are born in sin, and, as sinners, are afraid of God. How then can we love Him? We can never really love Him until we are at peace with Him through Christ....Faith in Christ is the true spring of love to God. They love most who feel most forgiven. "We love him because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19.)
And how shall we obtain this love towards our NEIGHBOR? This is also no natural feeling. We are born selfish, hateful, and hating one another. (Titus 3:3.) We shall never love our fellow man aright until our hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit. We must be born again....
Let these things sink down into our hearts...We cannot have love to God and man without faith in Christ, and without regeneration. The way to spread true love in the world, is to teach the atonement of Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit.
 - Expository Thoughts on the Gospel According to St. Matthew by J. C. Ryle, accessed on 
Awhile ago, I posted on that one essential tool for parenting - the Word of God. Now the other necessary tool is becoming an even stronger reality to me - prayer. Teach my child to love God? Wonderful aim, but would that I could! I can teach my child about God and the gospel - I must! - and seek to direct his behavior according to Scripture, but I cannot ultimately change the heart. Nearly all the usual training of a child's behavior is built upon one thing - self-interest. I use my child's self-interest as a lever to push him toward right behavior when I discipline for wrongdoing and reward well-doing, because that is the heart material I have to work with, and I am told that with perseverance I will see results. I do want these results! But they are not enough. My child will not be right in any way until he loves God, and I cannot make him do that. Only God can do that. This is why prayer is the parent's other most essential tool, because through prayer, I can see the impossible thing done. "God give my child a new heart, because you are merciful and able to do it! God, give my child a new heart, or my labor is in vain!" Then, believing, let me be his faithful instrument, and labor until I see the thing accomplished.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"The Held Soul" - Six-Year's Past Writing Refreshed

Lying in bed this morning, too early to get up and too late to get back to sleep, I started thinking about a poem I wrote in college, based on beloved verses in Romans 8. I came to the end of it and then put together a final stanza which pulls in more of the text, and which I then had to get up and type! [I thought of changing the King's English style of the divine pronoun, "Thee" and "Thou", but really still prefer its use, as it is easier to pronounce and more beautiful than the modern "You"]

My heart is faint and cannot hold
My Savior for my strength is small
My love grows feeble, waxes cold
A hopeless voice says, "You shall fall"
Unto my weary soul.

If my endurance rests on me,
O God, no hope have I,
But woefully to wane from Thee
With hollow sighing, till I die -
Unless Thou holdst my soul.

My Lord! My God! Thou Sovereign One,
Help me see those mighty bands
That bind me to Thy righteous Son
Fastened by Thy mighty hands -
In this may rest my soul.

I have no power - Thou hast all
And all my strivings turn to dust
And in my dust-bound self I'd fall
But thou hast promised and art just
By grace to hold my soul.

I rest in Thee. In Thee I trust
Predestined, Thou hast called me,
And in Christ Jesus made me just,
And thou shalt glorify me,
And never loose my soul.

These are the strong eternal bands
By sovereign grace bound iron-fast.
By great and, never-failing hands
That shall uphold me to the last.
Believe Thy God, my soul.

If God be for me, who can be
against me, or can sever
The love which gave its all for me
and gives me life forever
Oh, bless the Lord, my soul!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

"Bid her be cheerful"

In a collection of Oliver Cromwell's writings, this word to his daughter in a letter to his son-in-law was a word in season for me this afternoon:

" Bid her be cheerful, and rejoice in the Lord once and again: if she knows the covenant thoroughly, she cannot but do [so]. For that transaction is without her, sure and stedfast, between the Father and the Mediator in his blood; therefore, leaning upon the Son, or looking to him, thirsting after him, embracing him, we are his seed and the covenant is sure to all the seed. The compact is for the seed: God is bound in faithfulness to Christ, and in him to us; the covenant is without us, a transaction between God and Christ. Look up to it. God engageth in it to pardon us, to write his law in our heart, to plant his fear [so] that we shall never depart from him. We, under all our sins and infirmities, can daily offer a perfect Christ; and thus we have peace and safety, and apprehension of love, from a Father in covenant, who cannot deny himself. And truly in this is all my salvation, and this helps me to bear my great burdens."

Truly, if we do not know how to give one another, especially those nearest to us, encouragement in the gospel, how shall we be really fortified? No "Keep up the good work, you're a wonderful woman" stuff here. Instead it is an exhortation to an already faithful godly woman to believe the gospel, and thus she is is strengthened to go on from faith to faith. So may I believe, so may I speak, and so may I return with the burden of my daily weakness, failure and sin to the sweetest of truths which can bid the most weary woman be cheerful.