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 in 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”

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Hey, where’d YOU come from?!

garden lastHot, humid, it’s southern Missouri and the first official day of summer, so what else is new?  I’m already a sweaty mess working in the yard, and the compost needs turning, so out comes the pitchfork (à la American Gothic) and the back muscles are put on notice. 

It’s during this little exercise in semi-organic gardening that I observe a real surprise—two tomato plants growing, quite well I might add, to the side of my large, homemade compost bin, hidden between the garage and the fence line. 

tomato

Huh?!?  And they’re as large or larger than some of the ones I have growing now in my suped-up garden with my organic, sore-muscled compost mixed with expensive dirt that grows things “miraculously”, and is watered with our very, very expensive third-stage (whatever that is) city water!  Continue reading “Hey, where’d YOU come from?!”

“And if you’ll look at the weather map…”

wood 2As the old saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Missouri, just give it five minutes and it’ll change.  Of a certainty, the weather is not certain. 

Well, duh.  Living right on the edge of Dorothy and Toto territory, meteorological displays of fury can blow up without much warning, although the science has certainly improved through the years, thankfully, since wind is cause for both fascination and fear in this part of the USA.

Visiting family in Oklahoma one year, I was impressed with the state-of-the-art tornado tracking system during one particular storm.  (Why is it that the place on the globe with the most twisters also has some of the worst dirt for basements??  Few homes have them in that area!)  So we sat in the living room, somewhat intently watching the radar as it revealed—street by city street!—the path of Continue reading ““And if you’ll look at the weather map…””

#morningperson vs. #nightperson !!

Perhaps there was something prophetic in the fact that my parents named me “Dawn”, since clearly I am not a night person.  Unlike my husband, Bob, and our eldest daughter, Jessica, both of whom are summarily nocturnal, I tend to rise with the sun and start winding down at dusk (if not before).  This fact was recently re-confirmed when I attempted to stay up at night waiting for Jessie availability to video-chat regarding plans and arrangements for her upcoming wedding.  However, there was one important glitch concerning our e-date: she lives in California and we are in Missouri, which is a two-hour time differential not in my favor. 

Even though I downed yet another cup of black tea late in the evening, and watched mindless television, (since reading at night rapidly puts me to sleep), finally my brain and body reneged on our plans.  After texting Jessie my apologies and need for a rain check, my head hit the pillow.  Unfortunately, I had unsettling dreams—was it the TV, the extra caffeine, or just being off-schedule?  Either way, I didn’t pull myself out of the sack until after 7AM in the morning, which was definitely sleeping in for me, and being the morning person that I am, meant that a fair chunk of the best time of the day was already gone!

So there I was, then, sitting at my desk, just too tired to arrange myself on the patio as usual.  The bike ride I had planned with my husband for later that day was tanked also.  In fact, after a lovely and productive time the day before, I was having some motivational difficulty as this particular one wore on. 

Jessie and Bob are night owls…I love to see the sunrise.  Jessie and Bob love to celebrate her home visits with late night chats and cheesy monster movies…I love to serve them surprise breakfast in their beds the next morning.  My eldest daughter and her father can discuss a topic in great detail to its utter encyclopedic conclusion…I tend to prefer synopsis, just the crib-note version, if you don’t mind.

There are many ways in which our differences can be considerably inconvenient, even downright irritating—that’s a given.  Several times when my husband has (finally) come to bed, he inadvertently wakes me up, but rather than quietly getting under the covers, it seems like his brain tells him, “Oh, good, she’s awake!” and he proceeds to pontificate on some deep personal revelation or travail.  Of course, loving him as I do, my brain says, “You need to listen; he needs you,”  like I should somehow allow myself to be drawn into this conversation lest he be left alone with his thoughts.  My body, on the other hand, disagrees.  Naturally, if I listen to my brain rather than my body, chances are by the time the conversation is over and we are both lying in bed, and I be wide awake as I hear my Beloved breathing sonorously and peacefully next to me…sound asleep.  And my work alarm goes off at 5AM. 

So, in this sense really, where is Jessie when I need her?

As I write this, I am sitting, as usual, on the patio, having had an unusually warm and early spring.  It is only late March, and the trees are already leafing, the daffodils are already done, and I have plants poking through the soil by several inches.  My gardening friends and I are holding our breath hoping the frost won’t reappear!  I’m realizing yet again the marvel of my garden’s diversity, as I’m rethinking some of my planting designs (using the term “design” loosely).  I might put the tomatoes in a different place where they will get more sun, and enjoy deeper more fertile soil.  I might plant more salad greens where the tomatoes were last year—I want to try the Swiss Chard somebody suggested.  Not sure if the new hostas got enough shade last year so I may need to revisit that plan.

I am re-reading a beautiful book by Linda Dillow entitled Calm My Anxious Heart, and I’m in the chapter on being content to be me. Mrs. Dillow comments wisely regarding a favorite Old Testament song, Psalm 139.  In this Psalm, King David was expounding on the uniqueness of our birth and plan for our lives, among many other fascinating truths regarding God’s design and intent for putting me here, in this body, this place, and this time. 

Just as I am thankful that God created so many different plants for all types of gardens, whether for sun or shade, whether for cool, spring temperatures or hot mid-summer Missouri Julys, so also He has wisely and lovingly provided a massive diversity of traits in people. 

  • Some of us are up front, on stage, and in the spotlight; some are hidden in seeming obscurity. One is tempted to covet the other’s quiet and anonymity, while the other may pine away for what she perceives is a lack of appreciation.
  • Some of us are bold and outspoken, completely un-intimidated by what others may think or feel; their counterpart is diplomatic, a person of few words, and sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other. The first tends to regret speaking rashly, while the second longs for the courage to speak out more.
  • Some of us have physical disabilities that prevent us from doing the things that come so easily to others—they feel they are missing out on so much fun! Others of us have perfectly functioning bodies, but struggle daily with emotionally or mentally crippling disorders such that, to be rid of, we would gladly give our right arm.

The grass is always greener…I know it’s not an original thought, but still one that’s all too true.  Like our garden plants, God makes His people all different to fit us into His grand design.  In one of his letters to the early church at Corinth, Paul writes that we are to no longer look at people from a worldly point of view, but from God’s point of view.  Regardless of whatever “defect” at which the rest of society points their finger in regards to someone’s personality or property, or their body, or  their bank account, God sees them differently, and His opinion is really the only one that counts. 

So also am I to see myself. Paul encourages the church at Corinth to “lead the life which the Lord has allotted and imparted to him and to which God has invited and summoned him.” (2) We can rightfully infer from that truth that God has “allotted, imparted, invited and summoned” us all to a life of service in Jesus within our circumstances, our personalities, and even with what the rest of society might think of as defects.   After all, God is the One Who is capable of turning our “defects” into delights. 

The NCAA basketball tournament is in full swing, and March Madness has once again infected my husband. I wonder what time he’ll be to bed tonight?  No matter. The garden will still be here tomorrow when the sun comes up, and so will I.

(Excerpt from God Loves Gardens by Dawn Jones)

  • 2 Corinthians 5:16
  • 1 Corinthians 7:17 (Amplified)

#QuietTime In #NewYorkCity

(“…one of these things is not like the other….”)

I have noticed that if I am going to be outside in the garden, I must apply myself to the task of becoming “acclimated”.  Heat, sweat, cold, rain, bugs—they are all part of the “outside” experience, and I will make appropriate (and sometimes creative and/or humorous) adjustments and provisions according my level of commitment.

I have layered on the clothing to go out in the early pre-dawn hours, even before the birds wake up, when it’s only in the 40’s or so.  This means long johns (to preserve my heat) and steaming hot tea in a pump thermos (to preserve the tea’s heat).  I have used so much bug spray that I’m thankful I am no longer of childbearing age.  I have set up a fan in the corner of the patio and even purchased an adjustable umbrella for when it’s hot, and when that isn’t enough, can be seen festooning said umbrella with kitchen towels draped strategically to provide shade from the inconvenient angle of the sun.  There is just something healing and healthy for me when it comes to spending sizable quantities of time out of doors, and I consider it a bit of an adventure to finds ways to fulfill this need.

One weekend I was visiting my daughters in New York City. One of them had graciously found a studio apartment for myself and her sister, Jessica, who had flown in from Los Angeles. This delightful little domicile was located within one of the tiniest of NYC buildings, which means it was only seven or eight stories high. (In my town, the tallest building is maybe four stories, and is itself dwarfed only by the local grain elevator.) I was very thankful for the accommodations, and mildly amused that it was right next to a similar building that sported a huge “Hell’s Angels” sign outside—no one in their right mind would bother us that night!  At any rate, since Jessie is not a morning person, I was determined to find a slice of time to myself in the quiet of dawn.  But does such a thing exist in the “city that never sleeps?”  Early in the morning, my Bible and I found ourselves determinately mounting the several flights of stairs to the rooftop, a place, I have come to learn, which is frequented by the veteran city dwellers due to the lack of space elsewhere.  Sitting at a table that faced the Empire State Building, I could feel the occasional rumble of the subway far below, but even so the relative quiet and solitude was blissful.  That is, until it started to rain.  Not a typical Midwestern downpour, mind you, but a New York City drizzle, just enough to dampen my expectations, as well as my T-shirt.  Looking around for suitable protection (mostly for the book more than for myself), I found an old blanket and threw it over myself, just enough so I could stay up on that peaceful outdoor rooftop a few minutes longer. 

Creative resiliency is also an important aspect of our relationship with God.  When we embark on our journey with Christ, He forewarns us that a certain “acclimation” is to be expected:

  • The rumble of life under our feet, the sprinkles and downpours of sorrows and disappointments, are all part of staying in the game and embracing the identity that He provides. It is comforting to know that, regardless of how we feel, we are never alone in this adventure. There are those who have gone before us, and there are those who will experience the same things after us, and in it all, God has promised that He is with us, and will never, ever leave us alone. (1)
  • Sometimes it takes creativity to believe in what possible goodness lies beyond what we can presently see (it’s called faith), or creativity to imagine that God has options we are not even aware of (it’s called trust), or creativity to rearrange and manage our lifestyles to spend time just getting to know Him better so we can increase our faith and trust, (it’s called an alarm clock…) If anyone needs a little nudge of encouragement in this direction, check out the account of a guy named Gideon. (2)
  • We douse on the bug spray of wisdom and obedience which certainly makes us less attractive to the world’s ways, and sometimes doesn’t particularly smell so great to us either, at least at first sniff. This “world-repellant” comes in the form of doing what God says for us to do, (obedience is very activity oriented), and will probably afford us less popularity, less attention, but will also mean fewer uncomfortable bites! The sting of personal/spiritual/moral compromise is worth avoiding at all costs. (3)
  • Sometimes God even sends His angels in the most unusual and unexpected forms, like big bikers with tattoos (gotta love ‘em!) to ward off my would-be attackers, or an old cast-away blanket to protect God’s words and promises that have been written on the pages of my heart from smearing off in life’s rain. (4) 

Being outside isn’t always easy.  In Missouri, they say that if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change.  But it is well worth the effort to be surrounded by God’s creation, and even more so be surrounded by God’s graceful plan for our lives. 

So grab your cap, and your can of Deet, and let’s get going! 

  • Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 12:1,2
  • Judges 6 and 7 (One of my favorites!! I have to meet this guy in heaven!)
  • Proverbs 8:1-14
  • Proverbs 4:23, Hebrews 1:14 and Hebrews 2:1

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.