31 March, 2005

*Terri Schiavo*

Aol news flash had the absolute poor taste of carrying this AP story about the military trial of a U.S. Captain after Terri died, instead of Terri's story. Yeah, I'm sure they just didn't get the press release, yet. Riiiiggghhhtttt.

This IS war…on multiple fronts. It is a spiritual battle, a battle of worldviews, and a battle against deception.

In the past two weeks, I have not written about Terri Schiavo, as so many people have done an eloquent job of informing the public of the facts that weren’t being shared in the msm. I realize that by not commenting at all, I could be seen as being absorbed in my own world. Though quiet here on the web, I have not been ignoring the travesty of the situation, but have been praying.

I am now officially, over-the-top upset at the multiple ironies and double standards of the “justifications by certain powers that be” of pulling the feeding tube from Terri Schiavo.

Let me back up just a step. I have been in the process of switching ISP’s, but still have access to AOL. On yahoo I just noticed (around 10:00 a.m. central time on March 31st) that Terri has died. Imagine the ire that swelled out of me when aol’s top stories were: American Idol cast-off, Kobe Bryant and the one that MOST steamed me:

Military Court Convicts U.S. Soldier for Shooting Iraqi
Captain Had Testified Killing Wounded, Unarmed Man Was 'Honorable'

Doctors, just as in the Terri Schiavo case, were consulted regarding their opinions of the Iraqi driver’s health status. Wow, surprise surprise the conclusions they came to about the "health" and viability of the Iraqi Insurgent.

I cannot even write. I think the headlines and the stupid, contadictory, stories and biased conclusions speak for themselves.
Patricia Heaton, TV mom and actress on “Everybody Loves Raymond” had the guts to stand up for Terri’s rights to life…citing the other doctors consulted in her case, believing that she did have the capacity to sense joy and pain on a human level.

The *least* I can do is continue to pray…and stick by my switch away from AOL’s poor-taste, biased news flashes. I may add more later, as I come upon more links. Check out rushlimbaugh.com. If you don't like my conservative stance on this, or my sources, too bad. Get over it. I was a vegetarian, home-birthing hippie at one time, but that doesn't mean I can't also be a conservative...with some libertarian leanings.

p.s. Breakpoint with Chuck Colson just published an article on similar irony, and states it much better than I have.

Pianist Leon Fleisher

Mozart's Concerto No. 12 in A Major for Piano and Orchestra played by pianist Leon Fleisher was on the playbill for the last symphony date hubby and I attended. Fleisher, now aged 77, has a fascinating story which testifies to perserverence in the face of adversity over one's lifetime.
Maestro Fleisher noticed problems with the pinky of his right hand even as early as the age of 16. His diagnosis of dystonia, which flared and raged most at the pinnacle of his career, at age 35, and the loss of movement not only affected his performance career but also proved to be a serious impediment on everyday tasks -- from combing his hair and brushing his teeth to writing. It had a detrimental affect on his mental state and his familylife. He was only 37 years old when he was forced to retire from the stage.
Maestro Fleisher was already one of the greatest pianists of the time. Over the 30 years after he left the stage in 1965, he tried seemingly every medical and psychiatric treatment that held a glimmer of hope. Fleisher devoted himself to his teaching and conducting and shied away from the word “comeback”. He issued two new recordings of works for the left hand in 1994, both of which received Grammy nominations. Then in 1995, after 30 years of trying everything and anything that might allow him to perform again two-handed (including accupuncture and Rolfing, which finally worked) with the Cleveland Orchestra. He played the Mozart Concerto in A Major, K. 414. He now continues to perform his famous "left-hand repertoire" and select works for two hands.
I was inspried by this man's story and of his persistence. He played the Mozart concerto deliberately...purposefully, with an air of peaceful confidence, as only a *master* of the piano could do. One can tell that he doesn't have the same reach of hand or flair over the length of the ivories as other famous pianists who are more poised, even cocky with their craft. Maerstro Fleisher showed a calm confidence and certainty of his years with the piano. Others tend to rush through a piece; flaunting their talent passionately, even flailing their arms about. Not so with Maestro Fleisher.

29 March, 2005

~ The Lord's Protection ~

The most important, heart-stopping incident of our spring break camping trip was the moment that our little Androcles (as I am fond of calling him) fell face-first into the campfire, which overflowed with white-hot and golden embers of several days’ camping under three or four large logs, fully aflame.

How he came off that pile with not even a singed hair on his head or face, nor any blister on his hand, with which he tried in vain to catch himself, only God and A’s guardian angel know. He had fallen face-first, near the middle of the flames, and his head bounced off of the logs.

I pray that he learned a valuable lesson that night, not that he is invincible and can continue to be a clown, but that the Lord had His hand of protection on him for a reason…a reason that only the Lord is privy to right now.

He *was* horsing around with his older brother. He was not paying careful attention to the slippery rocks at the edge of the fire pit.

I was held still and calm in that moment of shock; a strong sense of "delay" came over me, which prompted me to choose not to lecture him on and on after realizing he was perfectly safe. I withheld extraneous comments, loved on him, and told him that it is a miracle that he had not melted a significant portion of his body in the accident.

I stand amazed, am humbled and grateful.

I sing a song that I sang in church a couple of times when my children were smaller:

I'm Amazed

I'm amazed at all You've done for me,
Who am I, that You'd bless me so?
I stand in awe of all your wondrous deeds,
You've dealt with me so graciously.

Broken by all the times I've failed,
and the days I've hung my head in shame,
Time and again, I'm driven to my knees,
And I've found Your true compassion there for me.

I'm amazed at all You've done for me,
Who am I, that You'd bless me so?
I stand in awe of all Your wondrous deeds,
You've dealt with me...so graciously,

You've dealt with me...so graciously....

Rainy Day Redbud

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Courtesy of our own Ansel Adams son, who really prefers taking B&W photos

28 March, 2005


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The first day and a half were lovely; perfect camping, hiking, and canoeing weather. My friend Judy and I were able to sit in hammocks and swing for a while, then sit near the campfire and read, while our husbands made dinner. All the children helped set up their own tents, then wandered down by the river to go exploring.

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Our second day was reserved for canoeing on the river, the edge of Broken Bow Lake. If you look closely enough at the above picture, you can see the redbuds blooming. We journeyed up one quiet tributary near the end of the floating path, where lots of old water turtles have lived for years. The water was so clear, I could see the turtles, and one trout, in the water's depths. Up the ridge above the turtle area, there is a small waterfall that our older boys explored.

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Minutes after leaving "Turtles' Cove," as we dubbed it, smoke poured our way from the direction of the Lake, which is not directly visible from the canoeing and kayaking area. Our son and I both got some tremendous pictures of what seemed to be a large forest fire.

Within minutes, the whole river was clouded over by smoke. We found out later that the park authorities were doing a controlled burn but were caught quite off guard when the wind suddenly shifted, causing visibility on the lake to go down to almost zero. It traveled quicly through the little valley, where we were canoeing on the river. It was only a little alarming.

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The smoke spread quickly

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Here are some of the beautiful cliffs near the end of the float trip. Eagles are said to nest here, but most of them move out toward the end of February. We were pretty sure we saw one eagle flying about on our last day.

The last day and a half of our trip was spent trying to stay dry and warm. We bought an extra large tarp to string up above our site, giving us a large area to sit and eat under, in dryness. The guys kept our fire going throughout all of Saturday, in spite of the rain. By Saturday night, we had a gorgeous, warm, roaring fire which kept us warm. The rain had subsided briefly at that point. Once we went to sleep, the showers picked up again. We had a special time of worship around the campfire all planned out, but were unable to go through with it.

The conclusion we came to the next day was that it was time to pack up and go home. We decided to wait and see if the downpour would stop before attempting to break camp, by going into town for breakfast. We stumbled onto an internet cafe', surprisingly enough, where a nice lady made us capuccinos and let us spend some time on two computers. There were games and places to sit in a nice sitting/reading room area. Hubby played yatzee with his friend, JB, and the boys played chess.

The rain let up, we all packed up and stopped at Applebee's for dinner, before returning home. Loads of laundry later, it is sunny back here at home, and I think I am rested and ready to begin spring cleaning!

24 March, 2005

Spring Break

After a busy week of comp exams, dh is about to graduate with his Masters in English. So much studying behind him, we are embarking on a mini-trip for Easter.

Welcome to my new visitors! I look forward to chatting when I get back to my computer after Easter, about books, homeschooling, nature study, photography, what have you.

Until then, have a blessed Resurrection Sunday...He is risen!

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life.."

18 March, 2005

Journals, anyone?

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Before blogging, we had the old-fashioned way of journaling with pen and ink. I've had books on the brain all week, making hand-cut-and-sewn journals to sell at a bazaar this weekend, all funds going to missions efforts through our church.

Recase of a sentimental favorite

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Completed Recase of a sentimental favorite

A favorite book from childhood, up in the right corner, you might see evidence (#27) of my third-grade numbering system for my personal library! The original spine was lost somewhere along the way, so after trying to remove all of the old adhesive, which had changed chemically and become solid concrete by being stored in an old, un-airconditioned house. I created a completely new spine.

~ Elder Poets ~

Next step

I got the tinted spine lining (of special Japanese tissue) pasted into the cover, and one layer of reinforcement on the spine of the text block. First session of classes this year has finished, and second session begins after Easter. At that time, I hope to get the cover and text block put back together, again!

You might be able to notice the slight "watermarking" on the back of the cover. This is the place, the size of an orange or so, where old water damage had removed the color from the bookcloth. I rematched and recolored the spot last year. Not too bad for my first attempt!

17 March, 2005

Twice in one week?

Dd and I were out buying beads and paper supplies at our not-so-local crafts store today, and nearly ran out of gas. I was already filling up the tank when I realized that the price of a gallon of gas was a nickel cheaper across the street. All I could do was shrug my shoulders. Then I realized a TV cameraman was headed my way.
That is the second time in less than a week! Golly. At least the other day I was dressed for a funeral, and the newsman was keeping a distance while filming.

I completely dodged the news cameraman today, who was seeking people to interview about high gas prices or the population growth in our area and the need for widening of the streets, and future tollways. I don't know that all the double-income folks moving out our way would be too happy with my one-income, simplicity-seeking opinion. Besides, I really did look rather like a 21st century hippy today with my long hair pulled up into a pony tail, no make-up, hip huggers and slip-on shoes. It was too chilly for Birkenstocks :-), and I'd left my jacket at home. I jumped into the car while filling up with regular and successfully avoided an interview. Hehehhe. Dd said, "Let's go, mom, drive!" She didn't realize that the gas was still pumping. He left just as my tank filled to the top...almost $30 later. Then I came to my senses...What about drilling in Alaska's ANWR? Let's see about bringing more of the oil business back home. Hey, maybe I am a good Republican, after all! Mr. Cameraman? Where are you?

16 March, 2005

The Road

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Photo courtesy of our "Ansel Adams" son

This is what our road has looked like for decades. But sadly, that is all about to change. There are perks that come with progress, but I am not fond of most of the purported benefits. I’d like to keep the open fields and the views, thank you very much! Sure our property values will go up, but then, so will taxes! Who needs a dozen or fifty retail stores within three miles of home, anyway, right? One grocery store is convenient, but who needs five? Sometimes I am not a very good or cooperative Republican. :-p

14 March, 2005

Day of Rest

Ah, Rest!

That's what today was for, after a busy weekend. We visited friends all day Friday, went to the funeral on Saturday, after an early morning vocal practice. Saturday afternoon was spent shuttling some of the kiddos to help babysit at a parents' night out at church. Dear Daughter, who is very much a "Lizzie" or an "Emma" is now sick with a cold. Sunday meant singing at two services. We four female vocalists did a neat arrangement, trio style, of the old song "Take it To The Lord in Prayer," while our worship leader played soulfully "Ray Charles" style on the keyboard. Right after second service, I dashed off to my vintage book restoration class, where, as always, I picked up more information and knowledge. I also picked up the latest book I re-backed and re-cased. It is a sentimental copy of an old poetry book from childhood, that is pretty popular in homeschooling circles. I returned home to find that a good, old (okay, not old but long-time) friend from Colorado was about to show up to have dinner and capuccino with us, since he is in town on business all week. While he was visiting, I had to go pick up a couple of the boys, who'd spent their afternoon chatting and playing with friends. I fell fast asleep after reading a bit of my new book, _The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency_, thanks to a friend who brought me a copy of my very own at church yesterday (thank you, Allison :-)!

But today, we did not have to leave the house at all! Most of us worked on handicrafts in the afternoon to sell at the church's "marketplace" sale this weekend. "Emma"-daughter worked on beaded bracelets and quilted coasters, until the sewing machine gave up on her. Ds, Androcles, worked on yarn bracelets, while I cut boards and paper to make hand-bound journals.

Rest is *fine!*

It is back to our regular, busy schedule tomorrow of driving 16 yo "Ansel Adams" to his Worldviews of the Western World class. Errands and park day for the rest of us, while he is there. Although ds, "Audubon," will be staying behind to go to the park with a neighbor friend and work on their fort, ride bikes, draw, play computer; generally all-around, outdoorsy "guy" time.

12 March, 2005

~Fallen Hero~

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Today, I attended the funeral of a man who worked with a private security company in Iraq. We knew Jim and his family back when our oldest two children were very young, attending the same church. His family was close to my brother's family, their kids all grew up and went to school and church together. He and a coworker were killed just over a week ago in Iraq by a roadside bomb. My niece said that her husband, who is back in Iraq for his second tour, heard the explosion that day.

Jim was a former Marine, a police officer, and in the last decade or so, has been a part of helping with security in many countries; Afghanistan, Qatar, Iraq, and Bosnia. I think he worked in Saudi Arabia, as well.

His son, Chris was in the Navy. He was killed by a drunk driver two years ago while back on his two-week leave from his deployment in Iraq.

Several moments from the day stuck out to me. A young man who is in the army, who called Jim his second father, wanted passionately to speak with us, as much for the cause as he wanted to speak at the service because of his love for his comrade. He very earnestly said to us all that He believes in what we're doing in Iraq. He said that Jim believed with his whole heart in the mission, as well.

Jim'a favorite passage from the Bible is in the Beatitudes in Matthew, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God." He felt that was his calling in life, to be a peacemaker, walking into turmoil and conflict, when and where others needed help.

Two Marines performed the flag-unfolding/folding ceremony. I could not keep the tears from streaming. Few people could. After one of the Marines presented the flag to Jim's wife, the other played Taps on the bugle. Next, we watched and listended as man played "Amazing Grace" on the bag pipes, from the foyer, up the isle, and back out again, walking slowly as he played. Very solemn, very reverent. Very moving.

While that was special, the most tear-jerking moments were during a sweet slide-show (complete with music) of his life, his family, kids/grandkids, and pictures from his work as a Marine, police officer, and security worker.

We have much for which to thank men like Jim, maybe the least of which is our ability to carry on with our lives, shopping and watching movies, going to sports events, the symphony, living our busy, fulfilling, overscheduled days, because of their work to keep us a free nation, free from attack since 9/11, relatively free from fear.

Thank you...Jim, who is now passed, Mike and Ken, family and friends in Iraq...and all the others...we're praying for you.

10 March, 2005

Alexander McCall Smith

A friend recenty recommended this author's series to me. The same weekend she told me about the series, I happened to hear the author's name on a program on our local classical radio station. My ears perked up, as I heard the interviewer discuss upcoming authors who were presenting special programs this spring. Among them, Salman Rushdie, Frances Mayes and Alexander McCall Smith.

I would have liked to have gone to the Frances Mayes program on Tuscany and Tuscan cooking, but I can only justify spending money on one lecture series this spring. I've been to Tuscany, enjoyed the villages, museums, churches, food, natural settings and atmospere. I decided to sign up for the Smith program instead, to see what all the hype is about! I've heard a few other people now mention how much they are enjoying the Ladies' Detective Series.

I hope to buy the first book before the program in April, so I'll be more prepared to have a fuller experience. At the art museum where these programs are held, we (the friend who told me about the author in the first place) will be able to meet A. M. Smith and buy another book for him to sign.

Book surgery

In class recently, I pasted a new spine lining into the old case of the Elder Poets book. This builds it up by filling in the tattered spots at the head and tail of the spine. It will give added strength to the spine, both inside and out.

While working in class, our instructor reads to us from Dr. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language. It is a cultural (and historical) experience!

08 March, 2005

*Spring has Sprung*

Spring Goeth All in White

Spring goeth all in white,
Crowned with milk-white may:
In fleecy flocks of light
O'er heaven the white clouds stray:

White butterflies in the air;
White daisies prank the ground:
The cherry and hoary pear
Scatter their snow around.
~Robert Bridges

This is the same tree I photographed in its autumn splendor back in December!

05 March, 2005

This 'n That

I've succumed to the respiratory virus little Androcles had all week, so I had extra time last night (when I couldn't sleep) to change a couple of settings on the blog. When I did so, I lost all your comments on previous posts! I backed them up, somewhere in Haloscan, but now can't find them. Hmmm...I may go back and repost some of them, from my mailbox, if I have time.

I will probably miss a jam session tonight, but I hope the rest of my family goes! They are a little shy about jamming freely in front of others, especially when there will be people there they don't know. I basically just sing and harmonize...and play small percussion instruments, such as tambourine and shakers. Hubby, a luthier in his free time, built a large hammered dulcimer for me, but since he combined two plans into one, it did not have enough bracing (for strength) so it began to implode. I will learn hammered dulcimer someday!

I used to play around on our lap dulcimer, and had one or two songs down. I guess I could also play Great-Grandmother's washboard(!) The rest of my family plays guitar (acoustic and electric), mandolin, banjo, ukulele, bass. Adrocles only knows a few chords on each. Ah well. I'm basically just a vocalist, but not tonight :-(.

Ciao for now~

Speaking of Motherhood

We had to ground our eldest (Ansel Adams), the 16 yo, last night. Hmmm. I did say motherhood was not easy, right? We only have four dc, ages almost 10 to 16, and there are days that I am just stupified by the lengths to which they will go when arguing! ! Over at "Amy's Humble Musings" you can read (over the next few days) some interviews she has done with moms/dads of many children.

In spite of actually having to be the grown-up, which does indeed have many benefits, I really enjoy being a mom. It is hard to believe that I am a mother of teenagers, now. I can still be silly once in a while, yes? Especially with our Youngest (Androcles). Get out the Nerf dart guns! Quick!

02 March, 2005

Is Motherhood Really Madness?

The "madness" written up recenly was the subject of a Newsweek story by Judith Warner, author of the new book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety.

As Chuck Colson, in his news commentary "Breakpoint" highlights, "Warner's experience and observations led her to ask why "arguably the most liberated and privileged group of women" in American history have "driven themselves crazy in the quest for perfect mommy-dom," making "high-pressured, time-demanding, [and] utterly exhausting kids' activities" an essential part of parenting?"

Maybe this is just a cause close to my heart, but I think if we don't ever respond to or rebut articles like this, the myths will continue to live on in our culture.

I was raised with a propensity not to fall for what is culturally popular. Or at the very least to consider and measure it carefully (count the cost) to stand on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, praiseworthy....dwelling on these things.

My mom babysat for the moms who decided to work in the 70's and 80's, so I saw the effects, both short and long-term, that had on the moms and the children; the regret, separation, distance, frustration, etc. I, like many of us, remember the mantra of the 80's, especially, was that "you can be it all and have it all as a working mommy."

I was a nanny for a doctor and a nurse at this point, and worked for another family one day per week, as well. I had the blessing of the lessons of walking through "childcare" as a caretaker for others. I gleaned much by having a relationship with my employers and discussing their thoughts, both positive and negative, on the issues facing women. Interestingly, my primary employer was not a practicing "organized religion" Christian (she was raised in organized religion, but did not believe in it), and her husband, a pediatric specialist, was a universalist. Even they felt like culture was sending the wrong message of affluence, status, etc., and lived counter-culturally to the beliefs/trends of the decade. They seemed to have a better handle on values than some Christians I knew.

I decided that "career mom" was not a route I felt I should take, even though I was going to college to become a psychologist or Christian Counselor. That lifestyle choice didn't seem to be going so smoothly for very many moms that I knew, through the Christian college I attended and the professional Christian women I knew at church, to the moms I worked for. As a working woman in Boston, after college, the Catholic moms that I worked with worked "mothers' hours" (during school hours) so they could be home when the kids got home. They seemed to understand the importance of their roll of "Mother." Those of us who didn't have kids, yet, tended to cover the later afternoon hours. A lot of women were measuring what was best for their marriages and families, at the time, and that was a good "Titus 2" example for me, whether they were of the same "church family" to which I belonged, or not.

So I struggled over the issue of what to do about the "cultural lie." It was infiltrating even women in churches I attended. Justifications were being made, or understandable regrets expressed over the choice the need to work, among some of my peers. It went to the core of my identity and what I was going to do as an adult, so much so that I developed anorexia. There were a couple other factors thrown in there, but this issue was at the core! I prayed to the Lord for wisdom and direction, and clarity...and discussed it with my [now] Hubby while we were engaged, to be sure that he and I had the same heart on the issue. I didn't mind being a working woman, but really felt the Lord wanted [me] to stay home with children when they came along.

The premise and research of this article and book is all based on a worldly standard, I didn't buy it when my time came to make the decision re: career vs. motherhood, and I don't buy it now. I wish she would interview moms who are living counter culturally. They are NOT hard to find. I am just perplexed by the author's lack of including a broader base of moms for her "research."

There were over 900 at the WholeHearted Mother Conference in Texas alone, and surely some of the women who were there would not agree with the basis or the outcome of this writer's study.

On pg. 2 of the online article, it says: "Nine hundred and nine women in Texas recently told researchers they find taking care of their kids about as much fun as cleaning their house, slightly less pleasurable than cooking, and a whole lot less enjoyable than watching TV.And I wondered: Why do so many otherwise competent and self-aware women lose themselves when they become mothers?" then:"—told me of lives spent shuttling back and forth to more and more absurd-seeming, high-pressured, time-demanding, utterly exhausting kids' activities. I heard of whole towns turning out for a spot in the right ballet class;"

I'm saddened that the parenting of children is veiwed by the populous as "less fun than cooking." Of course it's more difficult than watching TV, Tv is just an escape from reality, and it numbs the brain cells. (Read the book by Jane M. Healy, PH.D called Endangered Minds or The Plug-in Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life by Marie Winn)

Again, I say, something is terribly wrong with the picture Warner has painted by her observances of a small cross-section of American moms. As for feeling pressured to attend endless activities, I say that activities are not bad, but we have to learn not to overdo it by filling every waking hour with scheduled, group activities. We have the choice not to buy into this type of "placing hopes on this-or-that highest rated class or camp...in order to have my child in the best the country has to offer" mentality.

I know that we moms still want the best for our kids, and sometimes agonize over the amount of chores that we have to keep up, or we spend way too much money for "just the perfect curriculum," so I know that we resemble some of the issues of struggling with "comparing ourselves to others" etc., but we are still different, still "Set Apart" you know? I'm not naive to think we've arrived.

Culture may say it is so, and it may be true for a lot of people, but it does not make it *truth.* Instead of following culture, which she asserts has quested for "perfect mommy-dom," we know as Christians that we only have to strive for Godly Mommy-dom, as a part of a whole Godly life! It all depends on what or in Whom our beliefs are rooted...it all comes down to our worldview. From what source does our very living, breathing and basis for truth spring forth?

That is all I have time to preach on today :-). I promise this commentary was not meant to offend, or make anyone feel like they are being less of a mom. If one is having to work outside the home out of necessity, or been thrust into single motherhood, I do not begrudge the need to work.

I am not a perfect mom myself, and my home is not always immaculate, but I know whom I have believed in, and am persuaded the He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him...