But it’s dirty!

dirt
Happy birthday to me!!

Thought you could get rid of me, right?  Uh, huh, I’m like that bad penny that keeps coming around.

Actually, my dad warned me about being busier after retirement than before.  My gracious!  Right now I’m sitting on daughter #1’s back porch in California as her daughter #2 is getting ready to make her world debut…the sooner the better as far as mom is concerned.  (Remember those days, ladies?)

From here I fly to upstate New York where my own daughter #2 is recuperating from recent knee surgery.  All this after returning from seeing daughter #3 and fam over in Scandinavia earlier this summer. 

Has anybody got the time??  My body’s not sure anymore.

Oh yeah, then there’s this manuscript I’m trying my hand at writing, like half of the world also does.  But hey, it’s retirement!

Now, both of my sons-in-law are gardeners at heart, and I like to take cues from them.  Sitting out here in the beautiful southern Cal morning, I’m appreciating some of Mike’s creative handiwork remembering how we talked about improving our dirt—his is clay-ish, and mine back in the Midwest, who knows.  As I walked out to the porch this morning, I note bags of nice brown mulch.  He has plans!

It reminds me how the top of my wish list for any gifts for the past several years as been: dirt.  Bob, however, does not find that particularly appropriate or romantic, as in…

“No, honey, I don’t want to buy you dirt for our anniversary!  Can’t you think of something else?”

“But”, I counter, “you like to eat the things it grows, right?”

It doesn’t work.

So, I continue to buy myself dirt, the good stuff, to improve the soil in my gardens so I can improve the crops I plant. 

My sons-in-law and I also enjoy talking about compost, how to make it better, how we create our areas, all that.  It might not make for engaging conversation at a red-carpet party, but nonetheless.

As the old saying goes “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.  So true.  How often is something I initially see as unclean or unworthy of my attention actually show up as foundational to what God is trying to accomplish in my life?  My vision needs to be renewed.

“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!”

Now there’s food for thought, but first the food must be planted in the dirt.

Okay, family’s waking up soon and grandma is going to be on duty.  Hope y’all are fine and I’m still here.  God bless!

1 Corinthians 5:16  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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Bigger boat for bigger teeth

shark-2317422_1920As I begin to compose this, I hear a raptor behind me.

No, I’m not imagining yet another Jurassic Park spin off.  In the pre-dawn hours here on my patio, there is an owl perhaps not less than fifteen feet in the trees at my back.  My dog, Buckley, seemed to be a tad unnerved by the sound.  I assured him he was too big to tempt the creature toward an attack, and I made some big human noise to assert my dominance and position as well.

This guy can have all the mice he wants, thank you very much; however, I have heard of owls carrying off smaller canines.  When it comes to enemies with teeth, to quote the old movie, Jaws, we gotta get a bigger boat.

Pardon the corny segway, but the disciples discovered a similar thing when they found themselves in a crowded and small vessel when a nasty storm blew in.  Thankfully, they had someone on board Who was bigger than the storm.  Interestingly, His being there didn’t prevent the storm, as in “oh wait a minute, there’s Jesus, let’s wait ‘til they all pass.”  (How convenient would that be?)   Jesus, did, however, have to assert His dominance in the situation to make it go according to His plan, rather than the storm’s plan.

Neither does Satan keep away merely because we bear Jesus’ name.  Sometimes that Name acts like a magnet!  Satan himself has some pretty big teeth, and he knows it:

“Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

Nevertheless, we are in a pretty sizable boat:

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.  Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.  God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.  And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”

Which the writer (Paul) follows in the next chapter with:

“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

Part of being united with Christ is learning how to, like Christ, assert His dominance in and through me when I see the enemy.  “Take up your cross and follow me” includes that part; that is, not only the sacrifice, but the proper use of the authority and power which was paid in full by His own cross.

I can spend a lifetime learning how to fish in that boat!

1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 1:19-23; Ephesians 2:6 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.

More than Deet

mosquito-1465062_1920I’ve had one or two people comment on the “number of mosquitoes” in our immediate vicinity, such as my back yard.  Well, my patio is circumscribed by English Ivy, and the border to my next door neighbor to the south is a combo of flowering myrtle and forsythia amid an old sycamore.  Then I have a variety of flora embedded directly to my north which is shaded by one of two colorful maples.  In other words, I love trees and flowers.

So do the mosquitoes.  Continue reading “More than Deet”

Just another part of a healthy garden

gardener-3336148_1920It’s August, and we’ve finally gotten a little rain.  My lack of gardening prowess is showing of late.  Part of it is not my fault—the flowers look considerably scorched because I’ve reserved most of the watering for the edibles. 

Unfortunately, even the tomatoes and cukes are having a tough time, which IS my fault. 

Composting, planting, weeding—I’ve definitely increased my skill set over the years.  Pruning, however…not so much:

garden

Problematic on a few different levels, right?  Continue reading “Just another part of a healthy garden”

Pass the gluten, please.

wheat-3241114_1920Let’s face it—I am NOT gluten free.  I’m writing this toward the end of wheat harvest here in the Midwest.  A good friend who farms says their yield has (thankfully) been really good, something I’ve learned one cannot take for granted.  It’s seriously beautiful out in the country as I drive by the tawny fields of ripe grain.  And, of course, the days are long and hot right now for the harvesters, even with the high-tech air-conditioned tractors! 

My tummy and taste buds are so glad they do what they do. Continue reading “Pass the gluten, please.”

Extreme Corn Pickin’

hot-159386_1280I’m sweating.

I know I’m not alone.  Dot-gov says it’s 74 F., (and it’s not even eight o’clock in the morning), with an expected high of 94 and heat index of 105. 

Of course, drinking my delicious hot tea probably doesn’t help.

But I love my tea, on the patio, in the morning.  If I waited for perfect conditions I’d be inside all day most every day.

corn1
Eclipsed by the corn!

My dear brother and sister-in-law from Minnesota are visiting.  It’s been terrific, but the high heat and 2000% humidity doesn’t suit them either.  We took them over to a friend’s place to pick some sweet corn, thankfully right before this life-altering weather took hold. 

I’m thinking of heading over there again myself this afternoon when they go visit their daughter nearby, to get some more for them to take home tomorrow.  I’m starting a new sport: Midwest Extreme Corn Pickin’. 

Life’s too short to wimp out.

Of course, the farmers here in the Midwest don’t wait for perfect conditions either; I’m really happy about that.  I like to eat. 

I’m also really appreciative that God didn’t wait for me to get my life together before He invited me into His home.  In fact, I didn’t even have to wipe my feet!  Here’s how one of His early saints put it:

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners…But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

I suspect lots of people still think of Christianity as achieving some perfected state.  It’s not about my perfection, however, it’s about His.  He doesn’t even want me to wipe my feet before I come inside the door.  Instead, Jesus has this habit of washing our feet Himself!  In other words, my sin is the “perfect condition” for the application of His perfect righteousness. 

He also makes it clear that it’s His washing that gives me the capacity to be clean.  There’s definite partnership in this situation, but it’s not until He washes my spiritual condition that I can clean up my act. 

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.”

So there’s no waiting for this relationship to get going, or it may not come to pass.  It’s like waiting for perfect conditions to make picking the corn more comfortable—instead, it’ll just rot in field.

“Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

As far as the sweet corn is concerned, I’ll just wait for the heat index to get a little higher.

[Postscript: In the interest of honesty, our farming friends picked corn and brought some out to us this morning so I wouldn’t have to endure the heat.  There’s another whole analogy there…)

Romans 5:6,8; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Corinthians 6:2  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.

Plug in the ears

books-3322275_1920You know that saying “so many books, so little time”? I’m considering an audio-book app for my phone.  It’s that time of year where I spend a considerable amount of daylight in the garden, which means my mind just kind of wanders, I suppose. 

I’m checking out the one from Amazon, lots of books I can download for around $15 a month.  However, that’s a chunk of change over time, so I may need to do some creative budgeting if I go that route. 

Of course, they have that inviting hook of a 30-day free trial, cancel at any time and get one or two books free to start the subscription.  And there’s this one book on prayer I’m interested in.

Hummmm…. Continue reading “Plug in the ears”

Which way?

flu-1679104_1920Week #2 of what has turned into a nasty sinus infection.  The cough is so persistent that REM is a luxury, and of course, lack of sleep sets me up for another migraine, which greeted me this morning when I woke up after a few hours of rest.  Bob was about to drag me to the doctor (nurses are such good patients, you know) but I betook myself yesterday and was first in line. 

The doctor (one of my former students, BTW) basically said I was already doing all the right things, and then added an antibiotic and high-powered cough syrup into the mix. 

As I write this, I’m sitting on the patio.  The birds are singing, a distant rooster is trying to wake up the town, and Bob—bless his heart—is sound asleep in our bedroom which I vacated in the middle of the night so at least one of us could get some Z’s.

And I realize I am at a juncture.  I can follow my symptoms down that road of negativity, or…

I could rewind what I just wrote: I am sitting (not lying in a sickbed) outside (the weather is beautiful, sunshine dappling through the trees in the cool morning air) listening to birds.  I’m drinking my pot of Yorkshire tea.  I have a healthy husband who loves me and our family.  Most of my plants are actually thriving in the garden.  (Okay, people, that’s a big one, just saying.)

The list goes on from there.  And I’m reminded of someone in worse straits than I:

“A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.  Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”

Severely beaten and thrown in a dungeon, not a pretty site.  There was no denying their pain or predicament, but they were also at a juncture.  Gripe and complain, or focus on and use the resources they had (each other, love of God, voices to worship).

Admittedly, God doesn’t always send His breakthrough in the form of an earthquake.  But almost always there are others watching and listening to how we respond prior to the breakthrough. 

The highest miracle, and the bottom line of all life’s situations, is the spiritual breakthrough of those influenced by Paul and Silas’s reaction to their circumstances.  Hmmmm…

My tea is now gone, and thankfully, so is the migraine.  Time for a little gardening.  (Shhhh…don’t tell Bob.)

Acts 16:22-25 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.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

rake-24250_1280I was out raking up the sweet gums balls in the yard…again.  I never realized what an arboreous pain sweet gum trees are; beautiful, yes, but there’s nothing sweet about stepping on one of those blasted seed balls that drop in the spring and fall.  The little buggers can be downright treacherous! 

Try to mow the yard with them hiding in the grass, and they go flying like so many high-velocity projectiles.  You’d better hope you have shoes on or your foot can be impaled by the hard spikes on this leftover seed casing.  Even with shoes on, the little sphere doesn’t politely crush when stepped on; oh no, when it rolls underfoot, it can send the unsuspecting bi-ped flying, giving the same effect as slipping on a banana peel.  Continue reading “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…”

Shovel…check. Ibuprofen…check.

I put in this new garden two years ago, by hand, meaning without much help except for the big farm and home truck that dropped everything off next to the driveway.  And let me tell ya, those railroad ties are heavy!  (I think Bob helped me with one of them, but he had previously hurt his back, so I sent him back indoors.)

It’s been beautiful and fruitful:

Things are growing in the new garden!

But now, a few seasons later, the dirt seems to have settled and is getting a bit low.  I’m always asking Bob for dirt for my birthday, or Mothers’ Day, but his romantic heart can’t bear showering dirt on his wife when other wives are asking for jewelry or flowers.  Continue reading “Shovel…check. Ibuprofen…check.”