If at first…

garden lastI’m writing this in the early weeks of autumn as the leaves are beginning to succumb to gravity and the thermometer is gratefully beginning its slow decline from the ravages of an early hot, dry summer.  I’ve cleaned out my garden plots, pruning back a tomato tree; I’ve never seen one get that big and bushy and likewise produce so little fruit (there’s another analogy there, I suppose), and the zinnias basically cut off the sun from the struggling lavender.  Evidently, I was not aware of the potential within the plants, the effect of such good dirt, and the needs of the individual varieties.  So I’ll try it all again when this old planet limps back around the sun once more this Spring. 

I’ve decided that gardening is not only a science, but an art.  Unfortunately, I’m not much of either, except like Edison, in that if it doesn’t work the first 999 times, persistence might make the 1000th be the winner.  

I am, at the very least, persistent. 

Relationships, I’ve decided, are also both a science and an art as well.  We have three children.  We had them early in our marriage, and I was young.  I didn’t really even know myself very well, and here I was mothering three little girls, all with different personalities, talents, and destinies!  Are you kidding me??

As they were approaching that wonderful American invention called “adolescence”, Bob and I did a Gary Smalley personality survey on ourselves and our kiddos. 

Our eldest is a Golden Retriever—let’s take care of everybody and make them feel loved.

Our middle is more of a Beaver, organizing, accomplishing, business-minded. 

Our youngest (sigh) is a full scale Lion….the kind with teeth and claws.  This is not a bad thing, and I sigh only in part because her mother is an Otter.  An a fun-loving, fly-the-seat-of-your-pants Otter.  An Otter raising a Lion. 

Yet another proof that God has a sense of humor.

I love this passage from Isaiah and leave it here for an encouragement to young mothers:

“The farmer knows just what to do,
    for God has given him understanding.
A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin;
    rather, it is beaten with a light stick.
A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin;
    instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail.
Grain for bread is easily crushed,
    so he doesn’t keep on pounding it.
He threshes it under the wheels of a cart,
    but he doesn’t pulverize it.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher,
    and he gives the farmer great wisdom.”

And just as there is no cookie-cutter approach to child-raising, God does not use the same approaches with us, His children, either.  How boring would that be??  What He is, is persistent.

So Edison and I are good company.

Isaiah 28:26-29  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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In other words…

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“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

2 Corinthians 5:17  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God’s alternate reality and the eyes of a grandchild

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Our youngest daughter and family live in Norway.  I’ve never been to Norway, never particularly had it on my list of places to visit until, of course, we found out that their first baby was going to be born. 

Bob and I have found that grandchildren have a certain unequaled pull.

They have sent us beautiful photos of Scandinavian countryside—what a marvelous place on the globe with their fjords and waterfalls, and not a little snow.  Naturally, none of that can hold a candle to the little bundle and her parents that will outshine it all.  And as much as I love pictures and video chats, it’s never the same as being there for myself, as with our first grandchild, when we could caress that little one ourselves and gaze into her occasionally waking and alert eyes. 

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So I kinda “get” what the writer of this psalm is thinking when he penned this:

Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.
    Walk around and count the many towers.
Take note of the fortified walls,
    and tour all the citadels,
that you may describe them
    to future generations.

For that is what God is like…

I don’t think this is merely talking about taking a trip to the Holy Land, as cool as that would be with all the ancient ruins and history and such.  This is an invitation to the world to come see God’s reality, and it is to be reflected in the church.  Not the church building, for that is as impermanent as those now ancient ruins of Jerusalem were about to become in the day this psalm was written.  Instead, we are to “take note” for ourselves the Universe of God, not just the visible one He created, but the eternal one.

And it seems that the only effective way to take note of it is to go there, personally, experiencing the relationship with God and seeing/experiencing the church as He means for it to be.  (Read: not as it is frequently portrayed by His children still under construction.)  Which is a challenge for all who claim to discount Christ because of His people’s imperfections.  No, each individual is called to come and “tour all the citadels” for themselves.  It takes time and effort and not a little reallocation of resources…

…but after the long plane ride, there is Someone even more beautiful than a grandchild waiting to gaze into your eyes.

Psalm 48:12-14  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Never waste a good compost

garden lastIt’s an uncharacteristically warm day in winter, so I’ll need to go out and turn the compost.  Now, that might not sound too exciting, unless you see it with a little vision (or a lot, depending on your perspective, I suppose…)  My heavy-duty fork and I have an interesting relationship—I supply the muscle but it touches the biologicals.  It’s work, but I’m hoping a good harvest this coming summer. 

Which is nothing compared to the work in this account…

Backstory: What little was left of the Continue reading “Never waste a good compost”

Straighten Your Crown

Currently, some of the girls in my middle school have taken to wearing a little crown on their birthday. I love it; it’s a fun way of saying, hey-I’m-pretty-glad-I-was-born! So this post from one of my fave bloggish buds is special. Embracing our true identity isn’t about showcasing me, but Someone much bigger, as in, hey-I’m-so-glad-I-was-born-again! Here it is~~~

See, there's this thing called biology...

crownThis is my crown. I totally love it, I have a thing for fake pearls and delicate leaves. Yes, fake pearls. Call me crazy, but I never really wanted anything that was actually grown in an oyster’s behind.

Guys will have to go get their own crown, this one is mine. No doubt most guys would prefer something a bit weightier anyway, more substantial. Go for it, just remember those card board crowns they pass out at Burger King don’t count. You have to get yourself a real, grown up crown.

There is a lot of tragedy, grief all around me. I suppose there is everywhere, it’s just that it  becomes more personal,  closer to home in a small area. I know of everyone.

Getting older can be kind of hard, too. Every time some guy does something awful or has something awful done to him, I flash back to…

View original post 309 more words

More than tomatoes

garden lastI was interested in canning a long time ago.  I saw what one of my friends was doing to “put up” fresh tomatoes; talk about a LOT of work!  The boiling and peeling and grinding and washing and timing…

I’m not so much interested in doing it anymore.

But I’m still mightily impressed with the process and commitment of those who do their own food storage.  Back before the days of Walmart Superstores, if you wanted to feed your family, you either canned, or you didn’t eat very well after harvest season was over.  But, oh! what a feast you could provide for your family in the dead of winter with fruit preserves, canned vegetables, dried homemade noodles, and the potatoes snuggled in the nice, cool cellar.

Kind of makes me think of what Paul is trying to get at here with the people in Galatia.  When the apostle was writing this, these folks were under a serious attack in the form of (once again) legalism.  Let’s eat only these things and celebrate these certain days and keep these special regulations to get in good with God, and oh yeah, then there’s the Cross, let’s not forget that…

…except that Paul knew there was no such thing as a Cross-plus gospel.  The Cross plus not wearing makeup.  The Cross plus which day of the week you assemble for church.  The Cross plus not stepping inside a bar or a theatre or listening to that “devil rock music”.

 But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you.”

The Truth of the Gospel.  THE Gospel.  The only good news that God provides for our acceptance by Him, and purely good new it is: the Cross and Resurrection…period. 

It’s not that I throw behavioral decisions to the wind of culture and narcissistic whims, far from it.  Rather, only in the preserving of (and subsequent feasting on) the true good news of God’s acceptance only through Christ can I have the wisdom to know HOW to behave in the ways that honestly please Him.

Whew!  What a relief.

But here’s the kicker—how crucial (pardon the wordplay) it is that I preserve this truth, not merely for myself, but for those around me!  Like my friend and her tomatoes, it takes skill, knowledge, passion, and persistence.  Thankfully, Paul had plenty of all four, not just for the Galatians, but for me as well.

And, oh, what a feast it provides.

Galatians 2:5  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

…and turning to the white pages (or, beyond John 3:16)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280For those of us who have had the privilege to be exposed to the Bible most of our lives, we’ve probably memorized John’s verse that still shows up at football games (John 3:16), and highlighted passages like Paul’s definition of love (1 Corinthians 13).  After bravely skimming over Leviticus’ regulations on infectious skin diseases, we may have even ventured into the Old Testament faves like David and Goliath, and Isaiah’s “unto us a Child is born”.

But then there’s Ezekiel…(sigh). 

Zeke and I go way back.  Can I just say here at Continue reading “…and turning to the white pages (or, beyond John 3:16)”

Blessing of blooming late!

garden last

Whee!! It’s cooling off!  Of course, I’m writing this in early October, so by the time it gets posted, we might be in the middle of a blizzard.  But for now, I walk out to my patio with my pot of steaming hot tea in the morning to find leaves on my table, and fewer and fewer mosquitoes. 

I love my Midwest autumn.

The flip side is that my gardens are getting less abundant (which, this year, is a relative term, unfortunately), and the flowers are getting ready to bed down for the winter.  But look what I found!!~~

flower

Now that’s a late-bloomer if ever there was one!   What untimely but welcomed color!  Elegance in the midst of common, new in the midst Continue reading “Blessing of blooming late!”

Fishin’ me out, again.

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I found this image at Unashamed of Jesus who obviously found it somewhere else:jesus-and-water

I absolutely LOVE this picture!  It illustrates the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus; however, seeing the waves and the ridiculous reality of the situation, the big guy became awash with fear and doubt, and sunk like a stone.  But crying out for Jesus to help him, check out the expression on Jesus’ face!  He’s smiling!  Even with “oh, ye of little faith” on His lips, I can imagine that He was, indeed, still smiling!  I mean, c’mon, did anybody else get out of the boat besides Peter?!

Like my blogging buddy points out, the blustery hard-headed fisherman at least remembered to shout out to Jesus for help when he realized he was going under.

Which is unfortunately more than I can say for myself at times.    In fact, there has been more than one occasion when I didn’t even know I was sinking and it took others to let me know that I was in waters up to my knees and elbows!  

What I like about this picture and the attitude that is shown by Jesus is that the anger of God toward my ineptitude has been nailed to the cross with the Son of God as my scapegoat.  Cries of “UNFAIR!” fade away as I see the look of compassion and resolute lovingkindess that peers at me from above my water level.   It makes me think of how exciting it was to see our first grandchild start to walk, falling into our arms as she went from person to person in her very unsteady practice-gait.  We applauded, not scolded!

And it makes me think of this:

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
A Warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with joy;
He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins],
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

I’m intrigued that it mentions His warlike saving action in the same breath with His rejoicing over us (whom He is constantly warring to rescue…!)  When we turn to Him, crying out to Him with sincere repentance (as in, “okay,THAT was a bad idea”) and choose His way instead, based on this description–

–how can He help from smiling?

Zephaniah 3:17  Amplified Bible (AMP)Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

 

Excuse #5: I’m an expert at being a novice; Excuse #6: ….

See my garden?  Ain’t it pretty?  gardenmess

(NOT!)  Obviously, there was some needed work that didn’t happen prior to winter.  No problem, though.  The compost pile is doing its thing, and my tools (and back muscles) are getting ready to do theirs in the coming spring season.  As even an inexperienced gardener like me can surmise, the ground needs some serious work unless I want to cultivate weeds. 

weedsActually, I’m not even sure that these are…

No matter; they gotta go, and I have the gear to get it done.  My expert-gardener sister-in-law even bought me a kneeling pad to protect my knees, bless her little heart!  (I also invested in some volleyball knee pads from the garage sale next door—R-E-A-L-L-Y helps, especially on rocky soil.)

 So, why haven’t I accomplished this yet?

 Excuse #1: I have a full time job. 

Excuse #2: I have volunteer activities. 

Excuse #3: I’m a homemaker (ie, I cook real food, do the laundry, etc.)

Excuse #4: I also have other interests, (like blogging, for instance!) 

 I know, I know, I’m beginning to sound like this~~ 

But that’s not what God sounds like when He says this:

“For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: Break up your ground left uncultivated for a season, so that you may not sow among thorns.”

And then again…

“…Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, to inquire for and of Him, and to require His favor, till He comes and teaches you righteousness and rains His righteous gift of salvation upon you.”

Same thought from two different prophets; I’m thinking God is trying to get a point across to His people.  Which, of course, applies to me, since I’m now one of “His people”.  It’s just so easy to allow issues and situations to remain buried in our hearts and souls, supposedly hidden, sometimes even hidden from our own internal vision. 

I can see this being (yet another) reason why we need each other—bumping up against others in life has a way of revealing myself…to myself.  Then there’s quantity time alone with God on my own, learning His mind on things, my things.  It can sometimes be an uncomfortable process, breaking up clods of offense and wrong thinking and pride, but to put it off is eternally unproductive.

So, when the Lord comes to pick some fruit, what will be your excuse? 

Jeremiah 4:3; Hosea 10:12 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)  Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

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