I didn’t sign up for this…(sez who??)

I have a habit of biting off more than I can chew.

Now, that’s an analogy that needs no explanation; it’s just part of our vernacular, which probably means that there are a WHOLE BUNCH of us that do it.  Frequently.  Constantly chewing and rarely swallowing between bites.

Like signing up for a 50-mile two-day bike hike when I was in high school with no serious preparation, wishing in mid-stride I could fall off and ride the rest of the way in the S.A.G. (Support And Gear) vehicle.  “SAG” is aptly named for another reason… Continue reading “I didn’t sign up for this…(sez who??)”

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And the beat goes on…

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I get all kinds of requests for money, you know, you make one donation and the scent of blood is sensed for miles.  Some of the requests are causes with which I would agree, some not so much.  But even the ones I would tend to support, well, let’s face it, there’s only so much to go around.

Which really isn’t the point.  The real issue is the fact that it’s not “my” money anyway.  Sure, it’s in my name, my account with my beneficiaries and all that.  It goes to pay my bills, my taxes, and my retirement (such as it is).  It puts food on my table and gas in my car.  It’s not that I haven’t worked hard for it all; sure I have.  And yes, some of that hard work has taken a toll I’d care not to admit, but there it is. 

Still, the truth is, it’s not mine.

Not any more.  Because I actually belong to a larger government than any on this planet—the kingdom of God, (which is, I might add, far more just than the IRS…just saying.)

Yes, it’s easy to get to a point in life Continue reading “And the beat goes on…”

NOT for the birds, definitely not.

IWAA7I’m in the second year of my small berry crop.  Here’s what I was anticipating by springtime:

raspberries

Makes your mouth water, don’t it?

Especially for me, the non-gardener.  I’m pretty proud of this little piece of earth, and all the sore muscles along the way.  Bob has been very patient with the big Sutherlands Home and Garden truck pulling up unexpectedly (for him, that is), or the time(s) I have inadvertently left the hose on after watering, (okay, so I get distracted.)

His tastes buds do reap the benefits, however, except for that year I had an over-abundance of cucumbers—he still requests no cukes in the smoothies… Currently, our favorite taste treat is the fresh raspberries and blackberries coming in from the second-year plants. YESssss!!

Unfortunately, this year the birds have likewise found them.  Especially the blackberries.  I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the ripened fruit day after day, and here’s evidence (it’s not for the faint of heart)—

ARRUGHH@#!!*@#!!!! (delete-delete-delete)

Now, I love birds.  They serenade me in the morning.  But that doesn’t mean they get paid by my hard worked-for berries.  So off to Sutherlands I go (didn’t need their truck for this one) to get some equipment, and concocted this:

Not only was it not pretty, it was also not entirely functional.  It didn’t fit, which meant there were gaps in the netting, and my attempts to cut and paste (well, zip-tie) left much to be desired.  Birds aren’t quite as dumb as I gave them credit, at least not when they’re hungry.  They know a good berry crop when they see it!

Learn from my mistakes, call my Dad for a little review in mathematic calculations, and a little ingenuity from Pinterest, and here is my current barricade:

netting3

Already I have seen a feathered kamikaze bounce off in bewilderment!

Inspecting my handiwork that next morning, I notice a few gaps, but also some nicely ripening blackberries.  I easily reposition and secure the netting, and let the fruit do its thing, unmolested and secure.

“Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

I like that “guard AND keep”.  It’s one thing to set up a protective fence but it’s another to make sure it’s still effectively working.  And when it comes to protection, one size definitely does not fit all.

My precious berries were already protected from the ground forces of bunnies by the wire fencing—I learned that one the hard way a long time ago.  But just having put in the berries last year, I hadn’t counted on the air strikes (although, I confess, I had heard of them from the past…oh, if only I had paid attention to experienced gardeners!!)

After losing some of the crop, I went into action—better late than never.  But unfortunately, I “reacted” rather than “researched” properly, which left gaps and wasted time and money.

Finally, sacrificing some time (allocating that precious resource to a perceived priority—my berries!!) and relying on the experience of others, I have a tailor-made plan to “guard and keep” for a fruitful harvest.

When it comes to relationships, whether it’s in the family, or even in the Body of Christ:

  • Protection must be intentional. (And it’s rewarding to see Satan just bounce off, not that he won’t try again.)
  • We are given a template, but each “fence” will be unique; to force one on another will cause gaps and allow the enemy in to eat the “fruit”. (Ask me how I know…)
  • Research is better than reacting. Humbly asking for help if more effective than wasting time and emotion on crisis management.
  • Protection is ongoing: frequent inspections and adjustments must be anticipated. It’s called communication and resilience.  Forgiveness and grace. 

ripeberryFruit takes time (and effort) to produce.  But its reward is sooooOOO000ooo sweet.

Ephesians 4:3 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

“Combining” us together (excuse me, couldn’t help it…)

This is a combine:

harvest-1523791_1920

This is a header:

combine-harvester-1611203_1920

Actually, that’s only one kind of header; different headers are needed for different jobs.  It’s a far cry from the old back-breaking scythe of past centuries.  Not that modern farming is a walk in the park, since I’m talking about the folks that put in 14-16 hour days to put bread on our tables. 

My friend (who farms) told me recently of a little 2-year-old boy whose mom (another farming family) picked up a toy combine at a garage sale.  Obviously, it was used, and was missing the header, but the boy was so young, mom didn’t think this would be a problem.  Kids that age have great imaginations anyway, right?

Until she gave it to her son, and he remarked, “Where’s the header?  How do you expect me to get any work done without the header?!?”

In my defense, I’m from the ‘burbs, and my milk and bread came from the grocery store.  So evidently, a combine is not as effective (like, at all?) without its header.  Missing pieces in farming equipment mean no more bread on my table, and imaginary bread doesn’t fill the stomach very well.

All this brings to my mind what the Apostle Paul talks about when he compares the Body of Christ to an actual human body.  It’s that crucial idea that we need each other to be fully productive.  If the hand says to the foot “I don’t need you”, then the hand probably isn’t going anywhere!  Finally, Paul makes this simple but essential conclusion:

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

That word, together, is highlighted in my brain.  Even if I’m just a little screw that helps hold the header in place, when I take my part away, (perhaps due to offense, neglect of my health, complacency, whatever), the harvest is at risk.  Of course, this also applies to those around me, the one in the next pew whose part seems dirty and squeaky and maybe even a little rusty.  I need—no, I am accountable, to allow the Lord of the Harvest to put my piece in place with all the other pieces.

So we can get some actual work done, without just pretending.  Even a two-year-old could tell the difference.

1 Corinthians 12:27  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.

Prepare-practice-repeat, ad nauseam

IMG_20150103_172451138Standing in the waiting room of a local shop waiting on my car tire to be fixed up, my cell phone went off.  It was our daughter from southern California, but where she was living at the time, the cell phone reception was less than optimal, so I only heard snatches of her conversation.  It went something like this:

“Hi, mom…(static)…thought you might have seen the news…(static)…fires…(static)…we’re fine…(static)…”

Ah, parenthood.

Not being from that area, I have since learned that they have a “fire season” much like tornado season where I live.  Even when they see the smoke in the distance, locals are well-informed in the drill.

tornado-541911_1280To modify a culturally well known phrase, “disasters happen”.  From nature-born Midwest tornadoes to man-made terrorist exploits, we live in a dangerous environment this Continue reading “Prepare-practice-repeat, ad nauseam”

That “essence of new car”

wood 2Don’t you just love that new car smell?  Or walking into a new house that still has that fresh clean fragrance of, well, prior to kids, dogs, and cats?  Not that I’ve ever had a new car or a new house; I’m a definite “second-hand Rose” (or third, or fourth…), but there is something about newness that makes you want to keep it that way as long as possible.

Until it’s no longer new, that is. 

There’s a truism that says “familiarity breeds confidence”.  The problem is that confidence can degrade into neglect, whether it’s a house or car, or a relationship, or even my own Continue reading “That “essence of new car””

Close encounters with the food processor

IMG_20150103_172451138

I’m married to a southpaw, but I’m a chronic right-hander, which for me means that I pour my pot of tea held in my left hand into the sweet little cup in my right. All of this, however, is a non sequitur for some things, like washing dishes, raking leaves, or, more importantly (of course), typing a blog post.  All ten fingers are of equal standing then.

Especially when I make a nice surgical slice into one of them while making dinner.  It doesn’t matter which one, they all bleed the same B-neg red, and it’s just as difficult to type with any of the ten swathed in multiple bandaids. 

Like I’m trying to do right now.

That sense of touch which connects with the synapses is a bit put out, and it takes a little more Continue reading “Close encounters with the food processor”

This Old Pipe

IMG_20150103_172451138I think someone once said that old houses have character.  Now we can get around the word old with synonyms like vintage, rustic, historic, quaint.  But no matter how you spell it, it still comes out O-L-D.  Roof, sidewalks, ceilings, electricity, oh, and let’s not forget the pipes.  Sometimes my vintage-rustic-quaint-historic old house likes to show its character in very inconvenient ways and without much warning.  Like a kitchen sink that refuses to drain—during Christmas dinner preparations.  Or a leaky roof when the snow decides Continue reading “This Old Pipe”

Needed: Drill Sargeants, inquire below

wood 2

I never saw Saving Private Ryan; don’t want to either, but I heard that the real heroes who were there gave that first twenty minutes their blessing as being pretty eye-popping accurate.   Maybe it was just in some other old movie I saw years ago, but a quote stuck in my head.  The scene was inside one of those small, flat-bottomed landing craft as it rapidly approached the beach at the invasion of Normandy in World War II.  To the anxious American soldiers, the commander in charge said, “Men, as soon as you step on that beach, you are a veteran.” 

Despite the popularity of GI Joe and similar movies, games, and consumer junk, there is absolutely nothing nice about war.  Nothing.  But war is part of human existence.   I reiterate what John Eldredge so aptly talks about in his book, Waking the Dead, that the backdrop of all life is, in fact, war.  It’s not what we were originally created for, but it is what it is, and now we are responsible for dealing with it.

Interestingly, the pattern of war started even before the human race came on the scene when Satan gathered his army and mounted his unsuccessful coup (what was he thinking???)  He was, unfortunately, Continue reading “Needed: Drill Sargeants, inquire below”