Hand me the wrench…no the other one.

garden lastMy brother and I were just reminiscing about coming home from school and seeing our grandfather in the heat of the day, stripped to the waist and sporting a bandana to catch the sweat dripping from his forehead, (and what was left of his grey hair), out mowing the lawn.  He and Grandma had been visiting our family, and he was not one to merely luxuriate when there was work to be done. 

And why not?  I mean, c’mon, he was only in his 70’s…

spidermanOwning property is a never-ending lifestyle, to be sure, and if you’re like Bob and I, whose only claim to fame is the ability to change a light bulb, then it becomes even more challenging.  I did try to hang wallpaper—once. (For the record, of the two of us, I tend to be the one who tries to “fix” something first, whereas my husband with all the letters behind his name doesn’t even bother….just call the plumber.)

The truth is, they—the carpenters, the plumbers, the electricians and the lot—they know that they’re doing.  I’ve seen them at work.  It’s really impressive, you know, where there was no wall, now there’s a wall, with windows and lights and paint.  Or maybe new carpet.  Or a vaulted ceiling.  And, once the tools are put away and the dust has cleared, if I do as I’m instructed to take care of it, it should all last a long time. 

Wow! 

Here the Hebrew nation is about the kick up some serious dust as they go into the Promised Land.  Moses is recapping their past few decades:

“But you have seen the LORD perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes!  Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter.”

I see an interesting sequence here. 

To begin with, this is addressed specifically to people who had first hand experience.  They had witnessed God’s provision and His “mighty deeds”.  With that knowledge came responsibility—

The responsibility, then, was obedience to the One who had allowed them to witness those miracles.  In other words, the experience of His presence was an act of grace that not everyone (up to that point in time) had been privy to.  And every act of grace carries with it the weight of personal responsibility.

Lastly, obedience to God, although a worthy end in itself, was also a means to an additional provision: strength.  Like taking care of my property, it takes a certain amount of vigor to maintain (dare I say “conquer”?) the challenges of home ownership; I can only imagine what it must have been like going into the Promised Land.  So I find that the people’s strength to conquer and maintain was uniquely tied to their obedience to God. 

Hmmmm….

Okay, time to do some never-ending work in the garden.  (At least I can to that much without having to call in a plumber.)

Deuteronomy 11:7,8  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.

The clarity of a foggy morning

wood 2An early morning in June along the Pacific coast in Oregon is a little different than mid-summer good ‘ole land locked Missouri.  By now, the heat is already stifling and the humidity is beading the on the brow back home, even if I’m in the shade.  Here up north on a family vacation, sitting out on the porch, I’m wearing sweats, sweat shirt, Bob’s hat, wrapped in blanket and drinking hot tea.

Does this place actually exist, or am I just dreaming?

They do have humidity, however.  It’s in the form of fog, and lots of it.  It hangs heavily over the mountains in the distance, and even the near pines are hiding on this particular morning. At least intermittently.  I mean, they kind of come and go.  Continue reading “The clarity of a foggy morning”

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

Hoosier yer folks?

IMG_20150103_172451138When I was “back home again in Indiana”, (and, if you’re a native Hoosier, you’re probably familiar with that song, even though no one seems to know where “Hoosier” itself comes from)…anyway, when I was back home again in Indiana just last weekend to see the folks, I was helping them consolidate to move into their new apartment. 

Both of them are your typical Builder-Gen—responsible, frugal, forward-thinking, hard-working.  Nothing is to be assumed, (Dad taught me how to spell “assume”—it makes an “ass out of u and me”), and nothing is to be taken for granted.  Gratitude is a chosen attitude, and God’s will and wisdom are superior to mine. 

Yes, I know not to put my folks a pedestal, and I don’t.  But let’s be real; not everyone has had parents like mine.

So while I’m helping Dad recuperate from a knee problem across the street in a separate facility, Mom and my sis (who is local—thank God!) are sorting, organizing, and packing and sweating, with Dad and I out of the way. 

Mom did request, bless her heart, that my brother and I go through Dad’s old financial records (V-E-R-Y old) before she takes them to the shredder, not because Continue reading “Hoosier yer folks?”

Leavin’ on a jet plane

IMG_20150314_102847650_HDR
A reasonable facsimile of the driver, only through a thick thunderstorm. Gotta love ‘im!

At this writing (just after Memorial Day), Bob has braved getting up at 4AM, driving me through an impressive Midwest lightening storm and torrential downpour two hours north to the Kansas City International Airport, dropping me off so I could catch a flight to see my dear parents a few states away.  I informed him that I’m a big girl and would be perfectly fine doing this on my own.  But no, chivalry is not dead in my household, and I’m not nearly “progressive” enough to rock that boat.  Add to that the fact that my husband is nocturnal by nature, and getting up at 4AM is generally only a few hours after when he might be coming to bed anyway.

Yeah, I pick a good one.

But he is a cautious animal at that, which means here I sit with a couple hours to spare. Even the airport isn’t quite fully awake, which is honestly one of the things I like about the Midwest.  

 

I’m not really much of a people-watcher, but it’s kinda hard not to do it in an airport.  We’re all just squished together in one mass of humanity, hoping that no bombs get though on anyone’s shoes or hairspray bottles, hoping that the toddler sitting behind us sleeps the whole time, wondering if “they” will be there to meet us at the other end. 

Or if the peanuts will be too salty this time.  Whatever.

As I sip my tea and read my Bible, and look out on, oh, so many people, I connect with these words of Jesus:

airport 3a

At first, these words may seem intimidating.  Actually, as a disciple of Jesus, they are meant to be comforting.  Bob said, just this morning on the way to the airport in fact, that I was probably quite introspective as a child.  The challenge was, as my father told me back then, philosophically “you’re trying to do calculus before you understand algebra!”  (You can see where I get my penchant for analogous reasoning….)

Because I have a deep seated need to understand, that is, to understand myself.  Similarly, there are secret places—some treasures, some not so much—buried in each of us, all of which need to be exposed—some to be utilized, some to be healed.  However, and this is important, none of this can be accomplished without the proper exposure first.

Which comes to the next part of Jesus’ comment: 

airport3b

I find this intriguing.  He’s not so interested in how we are informed; no, that comes in all sorts of ways, many of them unpleasant, (can I get a witness?)  It’s not the the mode of information that’s critical, it’s how I process it, how I “hear” it:

Okay, my dad is a retired Purdue mechanical engineer, and my brother is a chip off the old block. Jim has spent many years specializing in industrial containment, and could talk ad infinitum about filtering and micro-particles, et. al.  Not my area, but suffice it to say that how you filter something is critical to the purity and usefulness of the final product. 

Easy segway: only through the infinite love of our Creator Father can we proper “hear” the secrets of our hearts—the good and bad—so that we can process and produce all that we have been created to be.  Not only for ourselves, but for others.  Not only for now, but for eternity.

Okay.  Time to go catch my flight and see my folks!  (How much you wanna bet Bob takes a nap today?)

Luke 8:16-18  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.

Here, There, Everywhere

IMG_20150103_172451138Still being a bit of a novice at this grandparenting thing, I’m told that grandchildren generally chose their own monikers for their grandparents, something easy to say, at times comical and endearing little things that stick like glue: Mimi, Nana, Papoo…so I was curious what the first of this new generation was going to choose for us.

Our oldest daughter, however, took that into her own hands, and has done a fabulous job preparing her little one to know us as (are you ready for this one?) Continue reading “Here, There, Everywhere”

That’s what doorbells are for.

IMG_20150103_172451138Best dating story: Bob and I were coming home from an evening out.  As I was still in college, I lived with my parents in the summer, and my dad, as a stickler for protecting his family, always had the door locked if I got home late enough and they had gone to bed.  Naturally, I also always had a key to get in when my soon-to-be finance would deposit me at the front step.

The key, however, only fit the main entrance, not the outer screen door…

What happened next was almost something out of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.  Bob, being the practical science-guy he is, couldn’t understand why I didn’t just ring the door bell, (which, to this day, seems like the most sagacious option), but in deference to my objections, he pulled his little Pinto (remember those?) around to the driveway and helped me go from the big wooden storage box, to the top of his car, and onto the garage roof which led to my own second story window.  Thankfully, I had left the window open, but DRAT!  There was that locked screen window (what is it with screens??) that I had to poke my fingers through to raise, hoping that the family dog wasn’t currently my room ready to sound the intruder alarm.

Having successfully deposited his future bride safely, albeit not conveniently, within her home, Bob took off and I went to bed, thinking I would relate the incident to my folks…someday.  Until I got up that morning and they asked me how I had gotten in last night, as Dad noticed he had locked the screen door, and Mom was wondering what my shoes were doing in the garage.

At what point in a young person’s life does she realize that her parents are not stupid?

Now, Dad is a fixer; property is something that must be improved and/or maintained, so my screen window didn’t stay impaled for long, allowing for mosquitoes, bees, and other pests equal access to my room, (geewhiz, hadn’t thought of that one).  And thankfully, I didn’t dent Bob’s car, pull off the guttering or slip and break my neck scampering up the shingles.  In retrospect (sigh) I should have just rung the doorbell!

Which is kinda the point the writer of Hebrews is making when he says:

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

I wonder how much wasted time, energy, and (gulp!) destruction I have caused by not first coming boldly to my Father’s presence.  What fears have stolen my peace, what anxieties have poked holes in my power, and what kind of hellacious peril I have put myself (and others) in due to my lack of faith in God’s most holy acceptance of me because of His Son!

Bob
And he STILL takes me on dates: roses and camo. What more could a girl want??

After all, I’m one of the family.  If I’m feeling locked out, I just have to ring the bell.

Hebrews 4:16  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.

God’s alternate reality and the eyes of a grandchild

IMG_20150103_172451138

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. 

globe-1445477_1920

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.

With Love to Sammy, 63 Years

quillMy good blogger buddy, Oneta Hayes at Sweet Aroma, provides me with a perspective I appreciate on several fronts.  Here is just one of them, albeit a BIG one.  The idea of covenant in marriage is not one that is fairly understood, much less practiced, in our so-called modern society.  The idea of sticking with someone through thick and thin (of which I believe they’ve had both) may seem a bit old-fashioned, however…

Here is Oneta’s tribute to such an “old-fashioned” idea.  Hat’s off to you, my friend!!  And God bless you both!

WITH LOVE TO SAMMY, 63 YEARS

Home, fortunate to be my pleasant place;

my hubby and I talk face to face.

Home, all my belongings there I stash;

got a lot of stuff, just not cash.

 

Home, cars can park on my one acre lawn;

afternoon naps when I yawn.

Home, food and drink and company too,

if you were near, we’d invite you.

 

Home, a place to have the family meet,

games and songs and plenty to eat.

Home, sixty-three years since we were wed,

tied the knot with unbreakable thread.

Cucumbers–more than salad.

cukes 2I’m watching with interest as my cucumber plant is flourishing, winding up the metal fencing and sending out little shoots to hold it up.  I’m amazed at the engineering and forethought of this design—some plants need a full support “cage” (like tomatoes), but this little guy has its own tentacles that reach out, find, and attach the vine to the fence, literally pulling whole plant up into the sunlight.  These also serve to anchor and support the plant when the heavy cucumbers mature. 

Brilliant!

Why can’t I be that smart?

God has created us to be in family, in Continue reading “Cucumbers–more than salad.”