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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More than a cowboy hat

IMG_20150103_172451138When we formally met the man who was to become one of our sons-in-law, we wanted to give him “the tour” of the small Midwestern town our girls where we live and are girls grew up.  He is Swedish, but had lived and worked in both the Big Apple and sunny Cal.  However, he had not yet been initiated into rural mid-America.  Even so, he liked camo, and he wanted a cowboy hat. 

He came to the right place.

His soon-to-be sister-in-law, (daughter #2), decided it would be a good idea to devise a scavenger hunt throughout the town, hiding clues in places that would take him all over the familiar haunts including the high school, an old abandoned farm tractor who’s final resting place was behind a local grain elevator, a landmark eating establishment with the finest in traditional, heart-stopping American hamburgers and milkshakes, and the like. 

hat-2738831_1920Of course, the end point was a true-to-earth Midwest Farm and Home store, where he got to pick out his own real life cowboy hat. 

Together, they have since put on a similar “treasure hunt” for his nieces and nephews.  There’s just so much fun in watching the kids’ excitement as they follow the clues and find good stuff! 

Which gives me pause to consider that this enjoyment must have its foundation in Someone who similarly enjoys His children searching and finding.

“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”

There is a thought circulating that if God is so intent on us knowing Him, why doesn’t He just make it easier, speaking more directly, personally, getting our attention more efficiently.   Allowing this new member of our family to look for and find each clue was hopefully causing a greater connection with the town (experientially) and with us (personally).  It took some time and creative energy to put that together!  And he was worth every bit of it.

Granted, God has and still could use an occasional burning bush, talking donkey, or disembodied hand writing on the wall, I suppose.  Those tend to be a bit more compelling, but not necessarily as effective toward His everyday purpose.  Which is…?

Glad you asked.

“And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.”

Eternal life—not just pie in the sky by and by, but true moment-by-moment intimacy with Creator God.  Right now.  Nothing less. 

However, the funny thing about clues is that they are easily missed unless one is actively looking for them.

“The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.”

We were not about to let our daughter’s loved one miss out on even one clue, as we gathered around him to help him out, (which is a huge part of what God’s family is supposed to be doing with each other as well.)  We knew what we had waiting for him at the end of the ordeal.  crown

And so does God.  Only it’s not a cowboy hat… 

John 15:17; John 17:3  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.

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.

“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.

There’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on!

wood 2Here in the Midwest, we live with tornadoes.  It’s just a way of life; you kind of get used to it, but it’s best not to get TOO used to it, if you get my drift.

One thing we don’t get much of is another kind of “drift”, an earthquake.  Evidently, I’ve been in one without knowing it.  My husband said the test tubes in his lab rattled, but I sure wasn’t privy to anything.  Our family out in California, however, understands this geological phenomenon somewhat more up close and personal.  There’s just something about being woken up with your bed bouncing around that Continue reading “There’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on!”

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!”

Another “Color Purple”

See the nice National Weather Service Map.

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See the nice purple color covering a large section in the middle of the nice map.  The purple crayon is the pretty one the nice people at the National Weather Service use for Ice Storm Warning. 

However, many Midwestern-ers don’t consider that very nice.  At all.

In fact, by last night, with roads still clear, many schools cancelled classes for today in anticipation of the pending storm—(of that you won’t hear me complaining, but that’s beside the point.)  Also in preparation of potential power outages, frozen pipes, and downright scary road conditions, the local Walmart seemed a bit busier after work yesterday.  I know this because I was there with the rest of my neighbors.

The big chain store was ready with a Continue reading “Another “Color Purple””

Don’t bother washing the hat

garden last

This spring I put in a new garden.  I’ve already blogged somewhere about it, so I’ll spare the details, but to say it’s back-breaking work (fine, I’ll admit it—especially for this aging back) is without question.  I’ve done it, however, with the hopeful expectation of an improved harvest. 

If I’ve learned one thing living in America’s Heartland, it’s that farmers are possibly some of THE hardest working individuals on kevinthe planet.  Their hands are not soft, and the ball caps on their heads are not nice and clean.  During harvest, they work dawn to dusk (sometimes beyond that), and it takes not only Continue reading “Don’t bother washing the hat”