Scissors, please

IWAA7A gruesome site greeted me when tending the garden after being gone for a week of family vacation.  Sure, there were the typical weeds and such, no big deal, just hands and knees stuff.  But what gave me a drop-shoulder-roll-eyes kind of pause was the leftover feathered carcass of a bird that had obviously been trying to pilfer my blackberries, but had gotten entangled in the netting.

Not a pretty site.  Not a happy ending.  (I will spare any readers a photo.)  I mean, he was, after all, just trying to get something to eat, doing what birds do naturally.  It’s sign1not like I could put up a “No Trespassing” sign, although my dad suggested I could hang up some brightly colored ribbons.  That could help them at least see the netting, but the berries are just so inviting, I’m not sure it would divert them enough. Continue reading “Scissors, please”

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Good fences make for good gardens

garden lastThis place is a wreck.  Sitting out here on the patio in the early morning Missouri summer humidity, I’m looking at the weeds resolutely poking through the already treated pave stones.  There’s some unwanted green stuff growing amongst the begonia pots, and the garden hoses are in dire need of mending.  On top of all of this, a brown leaf just now floated gently down (to meet the weeds on the pave stones, I suppose.) 

Now wait a minute!  It’s only July!  I’m not ready for Autumn yet!  Besides, no fair, since I’ve been out of town for a week, which gave the weeds and their comrades free reign.   Continue reading “Good fences make for good gardens”

You’re going out like THAT?!

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I’ve used this picture before, but it’s just too darn good to not use again.  This is my husband Bob and our middle daughter on our visit to Woodstock, the (in)famous place of musical rowdiness back in the 60’s.  Bob and I married in the late 70’s, imposingbobandrobin2 brown tuxes with peach ruffle-collared shirts on the groomsmen.  My wedding dress looked like a formal Little Miss Bo Peep.  So clearly I’m not a fashionista, but after a few years of marriage, even I took the liberty to eradicate a few items from Bob’s pre-marriage wardrobe: the mauve colored polyester slacks with the brown elevator shoes with white marshmallow soles, and the slick acetate shirt…he said he was trying on a new image during that phase.

What exactly that image was is probably best left to the imagination.

For you young ‘uns, feast your eyes on Continue reading “You’re going out like THAT?!”

Call your folks

wood 2There’s a story in the book of Joshua where God holds back the sun so the Hebrews could have more time to fight on and subdue their enemies. 

More time.  Man, I wish.  Of course, most of us would just blow it.  But somewhere in our collective psyche where “deep calls unto deep” is that gnawing feeling that time is something we can’t grasp or control.  A cursory glimpse at even modern entertainment is informative—sci-fi time travel flicks abound, even the humor of “Ground Hog’s Day” maybe-I-can-get-it-right-this-time wistful thinking is not far below the surface for most of us. 

So somewhere thousands of feet over Midwest farmlands, I was in a jet heading home from seeing my parents for a few days at their retirement village.  Dad was recovering from a knee problem across the street from where mom was preparing for their new digs in the apartment complex. 

After sharing my dad’s breakfast table with a 93-year-old WW2 veteran, after hearing of one of their friends who skipped her chemo so she could go hiking in Colorado (“just give me a little extra medicine this time, will ya?”), and after meeting some of the other indomitable souls in their neighborhood, it kind of makes me think twice before complaining about…anything. 

We went to church together that Pentecost Sunday morning huddled around his computer at the foot of his hospital bed watching the live-stream from their Methodist Church with mom and one of their neighbors (a retired world-traveled physician who can now only see peripherally due to a degenerative eye problem—but walks everywhere anyway.)  I’m kicking myself for not providing some grape juice and flat bread for communion.  (“The good Lord knows our hearts, honey.”)

One of my parents’ good friends from W-A-Y back, (meaning my teenage years, okay, no wise-cracks necessary), is now in his 90’s and just returned home to the same complex from visiting family from the west coast.  I am informed he is of the polar-opposite political party than my father, which in this day and age could mean, well, we all know the vitriol that implies.  Evidently, they are both “old school”, which means that they can discuss politics without interference in their relationship. 

Would that we had such maturity these days.

Dad’s the one who taught me to “ask for the moon” but won’t ask for a bag of ice when he bumps his bad ankle on the wheelchair.  When I mention a plan to call for something, it’s “oh, no, don’t bother them…”  So I have dubbed myself “the wicked witch of the West” and I can imagine the nurses in report saying, “she called again.” (One of my main consolations is all the heavy lifting my local siblings do when it needs to be done.  This long distance thing STINKS.)

Dad says that as the light streams through his window in the morning, he gives thanks to the Lord for another day of life.  My folks have a perspective that my culture has largely lost, or missed altogether—gratitude.  Fortitude.  Resilience. 

Gray hair is a crown of glory;
    it is gained by living a godly life.

Now, let’s see, who shall the witch bother today?  

(Call your folks!)

Proverbs 16:31 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.

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

This is a combine:

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This is a header:

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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.

In other words…

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“We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.”

[This puts a different spin on loving the church: I love God’s people by obeying Him, which brings up the idea that the BEST thing I can do to love others is to draw closer to the Lord myself.  So, what does that say about my love for the church when I neglect my time with God and His Word?]

1 John 5:2 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.

Let’s be offended. 

wood 2Yes, let’s.  At least, most of us would be after reading this in a letter, even from a beloved teacher: Continue reading “Let’s be offended. “

In other words…

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A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.”

Ephesians 6:10-13  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.

Bumper cars…in my driveway.

wood 2We’re a Chevy Suburban-sized family.  At 6-foot-2, my husband is the runt of the four boys in his family, my brother is 6-6, and I’m around 5-12 (hmmm…)  All this to say that our three girls didn’t have much of a gene pool to draw from when it came to physical stature.  So when our daughters were in school, I went on the mega-search for a mini-van.  Thankfully, I didn’t find one to suit my husband, and instead found an old, reconditioned Sub (complete with glass-pacs for an impressive announcement when one hit the brakes on hill), and voila!  We fit!

Now, having that many kids, and with Bob and I being a dual-working couple, we also had a second smaller vehicle. If you’ve never been the owner of a Sub, suffice it to say that the running boards are really not optional, unless of course you want your shorter friends and family to pole vault into their seat.  It’s pretty nice to sit that high up off the road; however, one of the drawbacks is not being able to see a lower vehicle behind the car quite as easily.

That, unfortunately, was not my excuse.

Backing the Sub out of the garage one evening, I somehow was not cognizant of our smaller car behind me.  It made itself known as my tonnage of steel encountered it, albeit slowly.  ARGH!  Naturally, my next move was to pull forward.

Another feature of the disparity in size is that the bumpers of the cars don’t quite match up.  This means that, since one bumper is obviously higher than the other, once impacted they have more of a tendency to lock together…

The good news is that the main function of the little car was still intact, even though it had to spend a little time in the body shop.  In other words, the bumper performed its intended purpose—to protect the rest of the car.  It’s an apt example of that built in “margin for error” that my dad always tried to teach me.

I’m thinking God sort of had that concept in mind when He said this:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble… A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Granted, even within the body of Christ, relationships get messy.  We bump into each other, and sometimes even tear parts away.  Though it seems like a paradox, that’s even more reason why we actually need each other—to buffer the hurts of life.  And when we have the support system intact, the intended function of our individual gifts and the corporate operation of the church can go on as He intends…

…even if it means spending a little time in “The Shop” for repairs once in awhile.

Ecclesiastes 4:9,10,12   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, he cleans bathrooms…!!

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It’s kinda hard to argue with your husband when he’s cleaning the bathroom because, well…HE’S CLEANING THE BATHROOM!!  Granted, for you younger women who implemented the non-traditional delegation of labor from day one of the honeymoon, this may not seem like a big deal.  But for those of us who grew up during the revered years of the reigning queen of domesticity (“June Cleaver”), just trust me…it’s a big deal.

To score Bob a few more points in the annuls of wifedom, his comment to me several years ago was, “It’s my goal in life for you to never clean another bathroom.” 

And after my subsequent recovery…

(Just kidding.)

But he wasn’t, and I should be so worthy of such lofty goals!?!  So, our little tête-à-tête had to do with an ingredient I had Continue reading “AND, he cleans bathrooms…!!”