And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain

You may recognize the above title as a line from the hymn, “O Worship the King, All Glorious Above.” Today the rains came to western Maryland and I, driving home from having had a doctor’s appointment in Annapolis, drove through sheer deluges as I came across I 68. So what “sweetly [distilled] in the rain”? Interestingly, enough, I often cast my eyes to the definition of “prayer” from the Shorter Catechism, attempting to memorize it as I drove. Having no DVD player and a limited number of radio channels provided the quiet time for concentration, and I held the paper as, phrase by phrase, I tried to cajole my addled brain cells into memorization.
The first phrase, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to His will,” gives me pause. Precise language impresses me; “an offering up” carries more impact than “an offering.” I need to trust God, believing His sovereignty knows and ordains “things agreeable to His will,” events that will bring Him glory and conform me more to His image. Fine, when all goes well, but what about the 34-year-old dad who died? That death returns me to meditating and surrendering my idea of how things should go “to God for things agreeable to His will.” May the rain on the daisies help distill such a prayer offering.


9 thoughts on “And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain

  1. “…trust God, believing His sovereignty knows and ordains ‘things agreeable to His will…’”

    Well, Flo, this statement’s a real bell-ringer for me (and probably for many others who read your blog). God’s sovereignty is a deep well-spring of hope throughout one’s lifetime, and specifically during times of great suffering. The deeper our suffering, the more deeply we may plunge the buckets of our thirsty souls into the well of God’s sovereignty, knowing we will never be left dry, but rather be filled to overflowing with more of Him.

    Perhaps you are familiar with Jerry Bridges’ book, “Trusting God”? It is perhaps 200 pp long, but is a great, practical read, and one I think will encourage your heart.


    • I’m reading it now. I also have two John Piper books waiting. Have you read *The Hidden Smile of God *(suffering in the lives of John Bunyan, Willaim Cowper and David Bainerd) or T*he Roots of Endurance *(suffering in the lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon and William Wilberforce)? Lots of prepartory reading before I start to put together this retreat on hope in suffering. Interestingly enough, I took the first letters of each word and saw that hope in suffering truly belongs to those who are HIS.

      I confess to being a closet (not formally trained) reformed theologian, so sovereignty is near to my heart. Flo


  2. Yes! I have “The Roots of Endurance”, but not “The Hidden Smile of God”. And (as you may imagine), God often uses John Piper to challenge my thinking (that God is merely “pocket-sized”) and to remind me of His extravagant generosity of grace…every breath I breathe, every wind-swishing of the leaves in the trees, every gorgeous splash of color across the skies — these are all among His sweet graces to me, to us!

    I’m sure that you know of John Donne’s writing, British & American Literature teacher that you are!

    What I just read (a moment or two ago) about one of your relatives who spoke fluent Japanese… did she live/work in Japan? (Sounds like she did.) I served as a tentmaker there between ’90 & ’97, in various places, so that caught my eye. How wonderful it is, Flo, that you are leaving a legacy far more valuable than silver and china! Oh, that more grandparents would catch that vision of “intentional grandparenting”. Were it not for my perpetually “interviewing” my own mother before she left for Heaven, I would know nearly nothing about my own relatives! And — just my 2 cents here — I think that you definitely *should* pursue the book proposal. (Focus [on the Family] Publishing would probably be the first place; their website likely has a place for prospective authors.)

    Here’s another title for you (& no, I don’t operate a bookstore!!!): “When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest & Direction in Contemplative Prayer”, by Jan Johnson (NavPress). I have a “hunch” it would also be a rich source of encouragement to you (between your various “writing projects”)!

    p.s. I hope that your talks at the retreat will be recorded/available on-line at either the retreat center’s website, or via a church’s website, so others can “listen” after-the-fact?


    • Trailing verbena is the flower, purple majesty is the color.

      I haven’t read Piper’s book on Job. I have read E.E.’s book b/c I wrote and taught a high school course called Major Christian Authors and included her. I also met her once –amazingly humble woman. She was shocked to be included in my course.

      BTW, I had picked up your Japanese simile and wondered if you’d lived there. My husband’s parents and his maternal grandparents were missionaries to Japan starting in 1919. Grandparents Gibbs came home due to WW II. The Dave’s parents went out in 1948 and served there until the mid 1950s. Small world among God’s people.



  3. “Trailing” verbena? Wow! Thank you very much — I had no idea there was a trailing variety! I have the lemon verbena in my herb bed — and it has a wonderful, refreshing lemony fragrance/flavor. I’m still encouraging you to pursue the “intentional grandparenting” publishing concept! — gracie;-)


    • Thanks for the encouragement on the writing project. I just received a booklet from Xulon Press, a self-publishing Christian publisher, so I am considering the costs nad preparation involved. There are already 52 letters written to Austyn Grace, our first granddaughter, and 10 written to her 10-week-old sister, Taylor Faith. The part I need to work on now is a section of the book that explains what the concept of intentional grandparenting is. You might hold me accountable on doing something proactive! Thanks, Flo


  4. Flo, I would be honored to serve as one of your accountability partners! (I have just chatted with someone yesterday on the topic of self-publishing [& XP was specifically brought up as a potential publishing option]; her “take” was to use a local printer [v. a Kinko’s, etc.], and to publish only as many copies as needed [“POD” = “Print-on-Demand” is the term, I believe].)

    Getting to “come alongside” (albeit in a “cyber” sense, rather than in a coffee shop, etc.) an English-teacher/writer who is working on a book manuscript is like being invited to attend an ice-cream social with someone who specializes in ice-cream making! Yum! (bet you can’t tell I love ice cream…and writing, too — though usually not simultaneously!)

    One idea (which you can feel free to disregard entirely): Listing some tangible deadlines. I. e., By June 14, I will have the ms outline complete; By July 1st, I will have these sections (here list specific sections) written; But July 15th, I will have a conclusion/contact information & invitation to readers to connect AND an introduction crafted, and so forth. (I am assuming that your “purpose statement” is “ancient history” ~ but have you actually written it out ~ somewhere, perhaps in your Introduction?)

    It would especially be an honor to be able to pray for specifics as you write, Flo! Please feel free to e-mail me directly at (All communication is confidential; nothing whatsoever is shared with my 2 furry “ministering spirits”, so you know!)

    Blessings on your weekend! — gracie;-)

    p.s. I’m already imagining some of the next potential titles in your series…


    • Happy Memorial Day, Thanks for your willingness to push me. I’ve thought of this project for about 3 years, but have nothing more than the letters I’ve written. So I will give myself a June 15th deadline for writing the introduction.

      The info Xulon sent lists a minimum figure of about $800 to get a book out. They claim they have 7 steps:

      I send them my manuscript They turn it into a book (even design a cover) They work with me one on one (they have author support reps) They prepare my book for publication (they get ISBN, prepare copyright and title page) They print my review copies I’m a published author They market and distribute my book (books available at and Barnes & Noble Booksellers)

      I need prayer supporters on this one and would so appreciate your prayers, Flo


  5. Good morning, Flo! How’s that Intro. coming, I wonder? (I totally empathize with you regarding having ideas/thoughts in my head regarding a project, but finding the motivation/forward impetus to “get going”! Sometimes simply having another person who cares is a HUGE help! I’m adding my prayers to yours & Dave’s and to those of your other friends & family members; let’s see what God does “next”!)

    You probably already know this, but you can apply on your own for a copyright (“CR”) for all of $35 (paper-filing = more expensive) through the Library of Congress/Copyright Office website (I figure as a literature teacher that you may be “hooked” on libraries, but sometimes it’s helpful to “hear” information from real people, v. just hearing generalities!).

    While $800 does sound pricey, I think it’s probably a real bargain, especially considering that they market your book to BN & AMZN – those are links most people would never have/know how to access on their own!

    p.s. Just a little idea: Have you saved a “back-up” copy of your letters on a flash-drive, or on some other storage medium (i.e., not on the same computer where your original info. is stored)? A “discount” way to keep such a “back-up” copy would be to e-m them to yourself as a file attachment, saving it “on-line”. (from one who has lost more things than necessary b/c I did not carefully save back-ups!)


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