What a Mother’s Day gift!!!

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.

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!”

Little Girls, Little Churls, I mean Curls

IMG_20150103_172451138When the kids were younger, I enjoyed having Christmas caroling parties for them.  We’d make tree ornaments, strung popcorn, went out caroling in the neighborhood, and generally made a fun mess in preparation for the holiday.  (Sometimes, the mess persisted well beyond the holiday, you know, kind of like the pine needles…)

One such party left an ache in this mom’s heart.  Our youngest had become the brunt of “girl drama” and had for some reason been “shunned” by the friends she had invited, save one (bless her awesome heart).  You may imagine my Continue reading “Little Girls, Little Churls, I mean Curls”

By Anonymous (he must be famous by now)

quillThis sweet poem about practical love comes with an even more precious story that can be found at Judy Journeys’ site, Another Perfect Daughter.  It appears to have been penned at least prior to the Great Depression of 1929.  A child’s poem, but more importantly, one with a great lesson for all!

Which Loved Best (by Anonymous)

“I love you, mother,” said little John;
Then left his work, and his cap went on;
Then to the garden, high in the swing,
Left her the water and wood to bring.

“I love you, mother,” said rosy Nell,
“I love you more than my tongue can tell;”
Then she went pouting full half the day,
Mother was glad when she’d gone to play.

“I love you, mother,” said little Fan,
“To-day I’ll help you as best I can;
How glad am I that school doesn’t keep,”
She rocked the baby till it fell asleep.

Then stepping softly, bringing the broom,
Swept up the floor and then cleansed the room;
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and happy as a child could be.

“I love you, mother,” that night they said;
Three little children were gone to bed;
How are you thinking that mother guessed
Which of her children really loved her best.

As usual, here’s my disclaimer, but take the time to check out Another Perfect Daughter and the reflections/insights she has there!  Well worth your time.

I Don’t Want This

quillThis is such a cool poem.  Right, I know that doesn’t sound very sophisticated, but since I’m not a poet, I’m satisfied with that assessment.  Here’s why I like it: The author, Rose at http://seekingyoufirst.com/, has it tagged under “motherhood”, which intrigues me.  I’m thinking (Rose, I’m willing to stand corrected) that the author came up against some crazy arguments about how staying home to raise your children is somehow a waste of potential skill and talent.  

Like raising children doesn’t take skill, talent, and several more virtues besides?  (Okay, now I’m just getting revved up.  Best not go there.)  Here’s from Rose, a poignant statement:

I Don’t Want This 

What If I told you I don’t want this?

What if I told you I wanted to trade in for less…

Would you see me as weak?

Would I cease to be a pillar of strength?

Would I somehow become less intelligent?

I know this is what I’ve worked for,

But this is not what I want.

I’m not her, I am not that woman!

I don’t want this and I don’t want that.

I need more of…

What if I told you I want, no need, to trade in for less.

How could I, with so much

Settle for such less?

 

Ahh… but it’s   so      much      more.

 

I don’t want this!

Check out Rose’s site!

Flush, and other Rules for Life

mommyrobin2This photo hot off the press, just in time for Mothers’ Day!  Working in the yard, I found out why a robin was so frequently flying away from my hanging plant when I came home from work.  I discovered this as I took it down to put the ailing flowers in an improved hanger, and VOILA!  Needless to say I was V-E-R-Y careful in getting it fixed and back up to mama. mommyrobin And talk about persistent!  She may get startled and bolt a few yards away, but back she comes every time!  Here she is sitting like a queen on her throne.  (You have to look closely as she is fairly well hidden!)

Persistent.  Now if that’s not the word of the hour for Mothers’ Day.  Or its twin, Relentless.  Who else but mom knows better than anyone that you can’t tell a pre-teen to wash behind his ears once and expect them to keep doing it?  Or the importance of saying please and thank you? (My daughter taught her daughter those words in sign language before the kid could even talk!)  Who else makes you eat your vegetables before your ice cream? (Another one of my daughters hid a carrot stick under her seat…)

Here’s a list one of my middle school students gave to me.  Go figure where she may have learned it:

rules for life

I know that not everyone has had the wonder and heritage of a good mother. Seemingly fewer and fewer, in fact.  I am one of those blessed few, and so I dedicate this post to my mom, who took me on as her own when I was the ripe old age of 13 (along with my brother, who was 15, to add to her own two, who were 14 and 17!!!)  And has stuck by us, lo these 40-plus years.  

Thanks, Mom.  I truly love you.

 

 

LP: Long-Play/Loving Parenthood

lp-376549_1280

Sitting in my daughter’s living room, listening to the one and only Stevie Wonder while Jess puts the baby down for a nap, glad that my daughter likes some of her mother faves from back in the, well, let’s just say “way back then”.  Hopefully she got a few other good things from me as well, even more important than a love of music.  I remember when she was getting ready for 9th grade and I gave her the choice of what instrument to play in the band.  It wasn’t a matter of whether or not she would learn music; that was a given, just part of her education.  It’s one of those parental decisions that Continue reading “LP: Long-Play/Loving Parenthood”

Why Wait??

(full read at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com)

I am quickly becoming of the opinion that there is no better way to celebrate than to have friends over into the garden.  So far, I have had a small family reunion dinner, my oldest daughter’s “Skype” bridal shower (she was in California and one sister was home in Missouri, and the other sister was in New York City—hurray for technology!), a private evening bistro with my husband and his poetry, and a bluegrass birthday party.  One day, I thought I would ask a few girlfriends to come over for an “open air” breakfast in the late morning.  Two of these ladies are quite accomplished and creative gardeners, and my spot of earth was far behind what they have mastered.  In fact, there was still dirt laying around in various spots from fixing some of the stones in my yard.  But is a garden ever truly completed?  I tend to think that, since it is made of living things, then a garden must be viewed itself as a living organism, ever changing, ever challenging, fluid as opposed to finished.  It would be a shame to put off entertaining until I had enough…enough what?  Enough flowers, enough bird feeders and butterfly attractions?  And what for?  To impress them?  Not on my budget or expertise!

I wonder how often we fall into the same restrictive and lock-step way of thinking in other areas of life:

  • Can’t have the boss (or pastor, or in-laws, or fill in the blank) over until the house is big enough.
  • Can’t have children until we can pay to put them through college.
  • Can’t take a vacation from my job until the next deal is closed.
  • Can’t give money to my church until I get a raise.
  • Can’t play with the kids until the dishes are done. (Oh, I beg of you not to make that mistake!)  
  • And here’s the really big one: can’t tell someone about Jesus until I get my own spirituality together.

Our can’ts are camouflaged as responsibility, when in reality they may be precariously postponing what is really important for what is merely urgent (at best), or selfish (at worst).  Please don’t get me wrong; boundaries—whether they be relational, emotional, financial, to name a few—are important, but so is our choice of who (or Who) is Master of the garden gate.  I need to remember the story of Mary and Martha, two of Jesus’ good friends.  Martha was concerned with preparing to entertain Jesus, and Mary with actually entertaining Him by sitting attentively at His feet.  Who was being most productive?  Would Martha’s house ever be “good” enough to entertain the Son of God?  And yet, when the opportunity was presented, she was in danger of missing out on the best house guest ever!  Obviously, Jesus did not expect perfection (by cultural expectations) before making Himself gloriously and generously at home.

  • I would hope that the people with whom I associate will choose to identify me by my character, rather than by the square footage of my property. Let me honor God with the property of which I am His steward, and leave others’ opinions up to Him.
  • Certainly we have financial obligations to our people, but care must be taken to not overburden ourselves with future concerns over which we have little or no control.
  • Someone who is married to his job can find his marriage to his spouse dissolve without him being aware of it until it is too late. A vacation doesn’t have to be a long expensive undertaking, but a regularly planned evening away—ALONE—can bring health and vitality into not only a relationship, but also into the job as well. And a caution to stay-at-homes: this means you, too!  Check the chatter about the kids with your coat at the restaurant and focus on some exclusivity with your one and only.
  • We somehow feel that giving money to God is a chore, like getting our teeth pulled. We have to psych ourselves up for giving what we think we can’t afford, or for beating back the guilt feelings when we don’t. An Olympic diver doesn’t start learning his craft by jumping off the high dive.  Start small.  It’s okay to ask God to increase our salary, but I should ask Him to increase my giving first. 
  • Yes, dishes need to be done, and we are not to use any excuse for a slovenly lifestyle, but that whole “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Word of God. Our children are a gift from the Lord, more than our dishes. They need us to let them know that in very tangible ways, and the most important is giving them of our time.
  • And, of course, the perfection of our lives is not the witness that Jesus is looking for. It is the consistency of love, and constancy of attendance on Him, of sincere repentance with corresponding behavioral decisions. It is His perfection of character that engulfs the flaws of mine.  Good grief!  How can I adequately bear witness and represent a Holy God!?  To feel any remnant of adequacy to this task is the epitome of pride and hubris.  No, I must not wait until I esteem myself a “better person”, and wholly rely on His Holy Spirit’s adequacy within me.

What opportunities are presented to us today? I want to be extremely careful to not allow them to pass by because of short-sighted nonsensical statements that include “can’t…until.”  On the contrary, I want to challenge myself to evaluate every self-imposed restriction that would threaten to put off what would bless someone—

—and many times that someone turns out to be me!