Just for the Weekend

And we’re off. Crazy as it may sound it was actually easier to leave for a weekend camping trip when the kids were little. Diaper bags, car seats, and baby/toddler paraphernalia seems simpler in hindsight. Maybe the fact that even though I still did most of packing back then, I actually packed what I thought we needed…no more. No less. Diapers, food, clothes, toys. Done.

Now we have not just what I choose but these items for each: hair stuff, lotions, 50,000 changes of clothes, 20 pairs of shoes, misc toiletries x 5, pillows, fans, toys, bikes, fishing poles/baits, food and snacks…..get the growing picture😂? How could packing for adults be more difficult? I would’ve asked this year’s ago with small children in tow. I’m here in this stage of life with adult sized everything hoping I’m packing all the right stuff.

Everyone gets most of their things into the trailer, but now a days each person is also running around doing their adult lives…like working. So fortunately our daughter had time off this time around and she helped with everything the guys could not. There’s a business to run which means they are MIA until about an hour or so before departure. If it weren’t for my girl’s help we wouldn’t be on the road yet. Seriously.

Another huge change over the years has been the addition of extra animals. Back when we lived on the family farm with one dog and a few horses it wasn’t too difficult. The dog came with us and my dad was right around the corner to feed the horses twice a day. What chickens we had were housed in grandmas coup. It was a shared venture then. Most of the hens actually belonged to my grandparents but as they had aged I’d taken over feeding them in trade for some of the eggs. A weekend away just meant they took the chore for a couple days.

Fast forward ten and a half years. Leaving for any extended outing means hiring someone to take on the horses, my chickens, a whole slew of cats and dogs, and Highland cattle. A house sitter is just the easiest way to go, but where to find the poor sucker willing to take it on is a daunting prospect.All of this…for a weekend.

Earlier today I got a phone call. It was dad. “Are you ready?” he asked. After a long pause I said, “this is just stupid.” He is one of the people on this planet that receives my unrestrained honesty at times. He laughed. I tried to recant, but as a farmer he understands all too well what is left behind to ‘enjoy’ a vacation.

I keep repeating in my head ‘it’ll be worth it’. Please Lord, after all of this prep may the waves of Lake Michigan be peaceful, the sunsets lovely, and the evenings crisp for at least one campfire. May there be some rest for the hard workers on this trip and a little adventure for the young man still in his childhood….Because this may not be happening again until next summer.

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Trust Me

TRUST, verb transitive To place confidence in; to rely on. We cannot trust those who have deceived us.

He that trusts every one without reserve, will at last be deceived.

1. To believe; to credit.

TRUST me, you look well.

2. To commit to the care of, in confidence. trust your Maker with yourself and all your concerns.

3. To venture confidently.

Fool’d by thee, to trust thee from my side.

4. To give credit to; to sell to upon credit, or in confidence of future payment. The merchants and manufacturers trust their customers annually with goods to the value of millions.

It is happier to be sometimes cheated, than not to trust

TRUST, verb intransitive To be confident of something present or future.

I trust to come to you, and speak face to face. 2 John 1:12.

We trust we have a good conscience. Hebrews 13:18.

1. To be credulous; to be won to confidence.

Well, you may fear too far–

Safer than trust too far.

To trust in, to confide in; to place confidence in; to rely on; a use frequent in the Scriptures.

TRUST in the Lord, and do good. Psalms 37:3.

They shall be greatly ashamed that trust in graven images. Isaiah 42:17.

To trust to, to depend on; to have confidence in; to rely on.

The men of Israel–trusted to the liars in wait. Judges 20:36.

These definitions have been pulled from the 1828 version of Webster’s dictionary. I should have read them from the very beginning when God laid the phrase “Don’t test Me, Trust Me” on my heart in January of this year.

It has been eight months now of various situations begging my trust…or questioning it at the very least. As we turn the page of July to August I look back in wonder. At least it has gone quickly because otherwise there have been times I fear I may have drown in the midst.

It is easy to think you trust in a higher power….until you have to put action to the thought. Remove the life you’re accustomed to and then ask what your source is. Trust is much harder to come by for most when it’s just you and God.

Lose your insurance and become ill. Wait to cash pay for a doctor visit only to discover that particular doctor has no more clue of what is going on than you do…maybe even less so. Meanwhile, misc. other things break, fall apart, don’t go as planned; nothing seems to be falling into place. And you ask, what am I doing wrong here?

It is a good question to come to. To weigh oneself searching for truth, making sure the right path is being followed. While I’m far from perfect, this time in the asking I was reminded again of the January statement. That still small voice reminding me “I told you to trust ME.”

In whom lies my confidence? As Webster defines, what do I rely on without reserve? Is it our financial standing? That is bound to fail or at the very least sway. Is it our insurance programs? Don’t EVEN get me started on that. How about the wisdom of doctors? They only get what they know from other men or from God Himself as well. As much as they can be helpful I know they are not the source of the health we seek.

Just look at the story of the woman with issue of blood in Mark 5:25-34. She has spent twelve years of her life searching for answers that have only brought her more sickness, and now she is not only unclean and unacceptable, but she is broke. I love how verse 26 says that she “suffered” at the hands of many doctors. I know the feeling. When she saw THE source she knew she only had to touch His clothing. She didn’t even feel the need to grab the person of Jesus, just His covering. In that moment when she crawled amongst the crowd in faith, (and may I add she was actually breaking the law because she was ceremonially unclean and considered unfit to be in public), she grabbed hold of a supply that is unending. Her world changed. Yes, she was healed. She was also restored socially. This enabled her to also be restored financially. She was no longer an outcast. She could be with her family once again. One moment of her movement of faith toward a river that never runs dry restored her completely.

We too have this covering. Not the physical robe of Jesus, but He is alive and well interceding on our behalf at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1 and 9). We have His Spirit, our comforter.

So as the world spins around me I direct my focus to One who is constant and sure when nothing else is. I remember these verses:

“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
Luke 12:27‭-‬32 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.12.27-32.NLT

The Love of a Father

In August of 1958 my very favorite photo of my dad was taken. Somehow I have the original. I don’t know how I acquired it from my grandma, but it’s priceless to me and I am often grateful for it. Each time I look into these two boys faces I see a glimpse of my own, and my boys.

He and his brother were playing ball-and I know exactly where and with what bats, ball, and glove. I also know the bibs (overalls) worn in this photo. I’ve played ball with that equipment, probably while wearing the exact pair of bibs one of those two were wearing. As a matter of fact, my son wore them too….and they are upstairs in my cedar chest.

The fence separating the yard from the field is much the same today as it was in 1958. It is a bit shadier now because the little tree pictured behind my uncle (the smaller guy with the half-smile) is now full grown.

The taller of the two young men is my dad. His smile hasn’t changed a bit. And look at the muscles on those bare arms! That’s from the farm work which had to be done before they got to play ball. He knew how to drive a tractor before he could even effectively reach the pedals. I’m not kidding. He drove one tractor down the length of the field while my grandpa followed behind on another. Before they had reached the end of the row grandpa would jump off of his to run to dad so he could get it turned around and going the opposite direction…before he hit the ditchbank.

While I believe people are not products of their circumstance or upbringing, but rather their own life decisions, I have to say that the way those boys were raised stuck with them. Both have a strong work ethic coupled with a ‘can do’ attitude to find a way to get it all done.

I’ve mentioned this before, but during all of my growing up years and beyond, my dad actually had two full time jobs. Yet with his demanding schedule my sister and I still saw him smile. We still heard his jokes. He was present when he could be, and at times even when he really couldn’t afford to be.

While the general focus for men tends to be performance or career based, those things are not what captured this daughters heart. Important, to be sure, is the fact he could never qualify as lazy, but more important is the tender heart behind that smile you see pictured.

What’s amazing to me is that while my dad had been “churched” as a boy, he wasn’t a Christian or even ‘religious’ when we were young; yet he lived and presented himself to us as someone I could see the image of Christ in. The attributes of patience, kindness, joy, love, integrity…ya he has exhibited those qualities with a grace I haven’t yet mastered. I KNOW there were times we pushed him to his limit but I cant remember even one of those times when he yelled at me, ever. That’s not to say he is soft. Because I knew when I pushed too far. The silence spoke louder than any verbal attack could.

Reflecting on over forty years of his guidance I am so thankful for this little barefoot farmboy who would grow to be one of the largest influences in my life. Whether I injured myself on a nail in the barn, hit a parked car in the school parking lot, (ya I did that. And it was owned by a stern insurance agent) or getting married unexpectedly when very few people accepted or approved, oh and let’s not even talk about all of the times he has bailed me out of a rough spot over the last twenty years of my adult life….he has always been there. Sometimes as the ‘just get it done’ face I needed to see to push on. Sometimes as the encourager saying ‘this too shall pass’. But more often than not he has been the one to come alongside me in silence that said ‘I’m here’.

I can happily say that all of my little girl prayers for her daddy to know Jesus were answered. I prayed them every night. My earthly father met my Heavenly Father and that makes him even better. Now he holds me in his prayers as well.

It’s Raining Again

It’s raining outside. Again. But why am I writing a post about rainfall? Because when something just seems over the top, repetitive, and unrelenting it catches my attention causing me to ask about the deeper ‘why?’

Rain in the springtime is normal in Michigan. Quite a bit of rain is normal. Having only a handful of days without it for three months running with an average high temperature topping out at only about 65° is not. Next week welcomes June.

I watch the nation at large with a wider view and see it has been wet almost everywhere. Even dry places have seen blooms that have been absent for decades.

My year began with God highlighting Psalms 126 for me. It is only six verses long referring to the return of the Israelites from Babylonian captivity. This was a joyous, but long anticipated time for them. It says that it was like a dream for them because they were so happy. The nations all around couldn’t deny how good God had been to them upon their return to Jerusalem. The turn of events was nothing short of miraculous. Verse 4 says, “Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert.” The last two verses speak of how they had cried as they planted their crops, but they were singing as they harvested.

Deserts are dry, typically barren places known to be unforgiving in their extremes. But when it rains…a desert is transformed. Almost instantly barrenness blooms. This year the deserts in Arizona and California experienced what they call a ‘super bloom’. What’s more is that according to an Associated Press article I read this is actually the second year in a row for a super bloom in California; which is highly unusual. Normally this would happen less than once in a decade. Betsy Knaak, the executive director of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Assiciation , said “There’s just an abundance in where it’s blooming and it’s coming in waves.” She is also noted as saying that as of March already six times the amount of rain had fallen there this year as compared to last.

https://amp-usatoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/3106394002?usqp=mq331AQA&_js_v=0.1#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fstory%2Ftravel%2Fdestinations%2F2019%2F03%2F08%2Frare-california-super-bloom-brings-wildflowers-desert%2F3106394002%2F

I don’t have solid data, though I’m sure a simple Google search could help me, but I’ve heard it said that Michigan has also surpassed a fifty year rainfall record. So from coast to coast it’s just been a wet spring.

I don’t believe in climate change. I do believe in natural cycles (Ecclesiastes 3:15), and in God’s promise from Genesis 8:22..”While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” So I watch. I wonder. I see clouds low in the sky. I feel the humidity ramping up. I measure the growing height of hay in the field. Despite the cooler temps it’s exactly where it should be. The rain has been a boon.

I’m a farmer’s daughter. Weather has always been of interest to me. It has always been a topic of discussion whether daily at the dinner table or during a holiday family get together. It affects livelihood. So the blessing of spring rains also bears the fine line of being dry enough to access fields and gardens. Or not drown them. This is what we watch this year as well.

But I have a feeling: I have bountiful harvest on my mind. All through scripture from Genesis to Revelations it mentions rain. Rain=blessing. In the spirit as well as in the natural. This year I feel a connection between the two. As I stated before, my year began with Psalms 126. Everything that has been sown in tears I’m getting ready to harvest with joy. How can I deny the ‘coincidence’ of desert super blooms?

As I watched the steady streams from the sky again this afternoon I read this passage from Isaiah 41:18-20: “I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across parched ground. I will plant trees in the barren desert-cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine. I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means- that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.”

The key here is the seeing. I’ve joked with others about the weather here so far this year. I’ve joked about the three unwanted ponds claiming our front yard and about it not being a complete day unless we have experienced a rain shower. I’m putting the jokes aside. Instead, I’m looking into future months and seeing a bumper crop. I see a harvest coming that we have never seen the likes of. I see it in the natural. I feel it in my Spirit. Just add some heat to this atmosphere and it’s all going to pop. If you live in Michigan you know what that means: it means things are going to get sticky, there is storm potential, and at the very least blood sucking mosquitos will be haunting every outdoor activity. Each of these things have spiritual parallels if you choose to see them…but we have the ability to overcome them all if we don’t become weary and see this through. Use these rainy days to prep the equipment, ready the barns, and train like an athlete- because once this gets rolling it’ll be all hands on deck.

Would I Know Him?

As the thunder rolls outside my window this evening it echoes the thunders in my mind and spirit over the last few weeks. Easter, almost a week and a half gone already, intensified my rumblings. The tumultuous questions of the man who walked this earth, is still celebrated by many, but had been vehemently refused by most in His day echoes on.

Reading the Gospels paints a pretty clear picture of Jesus. What raises the hair on my neck is our interpretation of Him.

I can’t possibly sum up human deity in a blog post, but here’s a small part of the picture I see:

A child whose birth was prophecied from the beginning of time is given by God to a virgin…an unmarried girl. He is controversial from the start. His birth is announced in the stars and men travel from far lands to worship with fine, costly gifts. Yes, He is born in a humble manger but there is nothing common about a child who must flee for His life as a toddler. Because He is sought by Herod, all boys in or around Jerusalem at that time under the age of two are murdered with the thought that Jesus, the Messiah, threat to Herods throne, could be among them. He is not. Angels have already warned His parents. They are safe in Egypt where they will stay until Herods death. Again prophecy is fulfilled upon their next move to Galilee, to a town named Nazareth. Jesus grows up healthy and strong. He is filled with wisdom as Luke states in his second chapter. Here, at age twelve, we see Jesus raising eyebrows again. He stows away in Jerusalem when His family returns from their Passover pilgrimage. For three days He is missing but He is right where He feels He should be-in the temple with the teachers. Not only is He asking questions but He is giving astounding answers. When found He is also pretty straight forward with His worried parents, “Didn’t you know I’d be here?” He obediently goes home with them… And His mother marks it all in her heart.

Fast forward to the adult years. At the launching of His ministry the Holy Spirit himself descends upon Jesus when he is baptized by John. Then Johns two followers leave with Jesus and ten more are added: fishermen, zealots, and a tax collector. Amongst these twelve is Judas, who is the treasurer. Do you have a treasurer? Well, our poor, humble Jesus had one….and He hung out with the likes of tax collectors. I see a man accused by the religious of the day early on. He is “a glutton and drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and sinners”(Luke 7:34). Such accusations get the response from Jesus that we find in Mark 2:17, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor-sick people do.”

While at the home of one of the Pharisees named Simon we see an immoral woman (a.k.a. ‘prostitute’) bringing a beautiful jar of expensive perfume to dump it all on Jesus’ feet. Mixed with her tears she washes them with her hair and kisses them. Simon is horrified. Judgemental. At which Jesus does what He does best. He calls a spade a spade by saying this woman had been forgiven much, so her offering of gratitude equaled her heart. How much had Simon given? Dinner. And reproach. The prostitute?- a years worth of wages in perfume…also probably a major commodity in her ‘trade’.

Photo from The River Walk

Yes, Jesus is followed by women who give financially to support He and His disciples.(Lk 8) He speaks to a questionable woman alone at a well. Amongst her sins is the undeniable one of her being a Samaritan, hated by Jews. (Jn 4) He refuses to turn away children or their bag lunches. He breaks every religious rule by doing unfathomable things on the Sabbath, like healing people and harvesting grain. He requires unridden donkeys that don’t belong to Him. He claims He is one with God.

They were looking for the Messiah but couldn’t get past their own traditions to see Him.

The man who cleansed, healed, taught, and loved them all was refused by the ‘church’ because He didn’t fit their mold. They hated Him. They put Him to death.

Here is what has me churning…if I saw this man on the street today with a bunch of untouchables contributing to His treasury, would I see the Son of God, or a greedy preacher teaching heresy? Would I question His tactics? Would I ignore the miracles, the signs, the wonders because I questioned His ministry? Would I accuse Him of avarice, or see the God given mandate to go into all the world and reach people that I cannot? …which takes all kinds of people, all kinds of money, all kinds of help from sources like taxes from fishes mouths,(Matthew 17) and bread and loaves multiplying to feed thousands,(Matthew 14, John 6)

Please, oh please, as I judge myself; let me not be guilty of being a ‘religious’ person seeing only a man, but not God working in him. Because my God has always worked outside the box on a scale that raises eyebrows.

Pruning…or Eradicating?

Today is the first day I have truly felt the warmth of a spring that is here to stay. It’s Michigan, so there may be a few more snow flurries here and there, but my resident meadowlark sang to me all morning. She promised me that winter is over.

This morning I tackled as much raking, weed pulling, and transplanting as I dared before taking this afternoon rest. Not that I’m lazy during the winter months, but completely different muscle groups are involved in gardening than in housework.

One of the projects I took on was the overgrowth of ivy in one of my flower beds. When we moved here I was met with an entire bed of mint: a pleasant smelling herb that I wouldn’t have minded keeping except that it had effectively taken over the whole area. The roots had grown deep into the soil and threatened to spill far outside of the boundaries of the existing bed. At this point I had little choice but to eradicate it all and start over. At the back of the bed, along the edge of the house, I discovered a thin line of ivy that hadn’t been drown out by the mint. I saved it thinking how pretty this brick home would be with lush green ivy growing along side. Only, like the mint, if allowed to grow unchecked it would overcome everything. I knew this when I made my decision to keep it. I knew that it would not only adhere to a surface, but that over time the tiny tenticles could actually penetrate brick, mortar, rocks, wood- you name it. The roots are destructive. The only way to keep the structural integrity of the foundation and the exterior of this home is to not let that beautiful ivy thrive out of control. So each spring and summer I pull hundreds of vines from the brick they’ve begun to cling to before it penetrates beyond my ability to do so. If I let it go it would be fine for awhile. It would actually look very nice. Within a few years time thick greenery would grace the entire side of the house…but all the while, underneath the blanket of leaves, century old mortar would be crumbling to dust.

While I have carefully maintained the east side of the house (the side everyone sees) I apparently have neglected a rooty vine on the west. This is my private garden. My little retreat of paving stones and rose bushes. Clemantis and Black Eyed Susan’s. Daisy’s, iris, morning glory, and hollyhocks all take their turns bringing season long smiles. But as I’ve just described my knowledge of the pitfalls of invasive species like English ivy and herbal mint, I have ignored the same rules for another. I don’t even know what it is that has invaded. Years back I had transplanted some flowers from someone else’s garden which contained roots of a small purplish leafed vine. That summer I noticed it, but it had tiny little flowers so I left it. It was kinda pretty. What harm could it do? Over time I’ve just admired it as it spread….from a single spot in that flower bed to almost the whole thing, then across the yard, and now taking over another whole bed. That’s right. Under my watchful gaze it has completely swallowed not one bed, but two, and most of the yard in between. As I raked this morning I discovered the grass is no longer growing underneath. To my horror I also found that the spring blooms I expected to see in my beds have been choked out as well.

The slow grass killing spread of weaving vines

But boy, do I have a lot of pretty purple vines. You guessed it. I have begun the process of tearing out these merciless little buggers with angst. How could I be so aware of the destructive properties of one species and let another grow so completely and destructively out of control?

And yet we do-don’t we. In one area of life we may be able to maintain perfect balance. We stay mindful of areas that others see and prune as necessary. In others, (where it’s private, where it doesn’t seem all that bad, where it actually may look good on the surface), we let the roots that will kill spread across unchecked until the realization comes that under the surface of it all we’ve let the life be sucked out of everything in it’s path. Now it’s too late. The question then becomes what can be salvaged after ripping out all that became entangled.

So as I worked on my hands and knees pulling out root after root, digging and raking, and then dragging piles of vines to the burn pile I had to ask what areas in life has this become a reality for me? What needs pruned? What needs eradicated? And lets be real-today isn’t a one time deal. I will find myself on hands and knees several more times working at these vines until they’re gone. Once rooted, it takes a lot of effort to pluck them out.

Parallel Realms

In the wee hours of Sunday morning I was restless; frustrated in my sleep. The answers to prayers long awaited for still stand at a distance. I know, I know. Not my timing but His…but I was talking to Him about it anyway. As I tried once again to drift off my mind wandered to the story of a friend of mine.

In the prime of his life, at the peak of his career, things just didn’t end the way most thought they would. Or hoped they would. What a guy! Nothing special, and yet so different from everyone else. He wasn’t after fame or money, but walked with such wisdom and authority people just followed him. In droves. They wanted more of him. More of what he had. The lives he affected for good are without number, and yet some just couldn’t handle someone else getting glory. Greed, jealousy, and fear of his rising popularity became a current that wouldn’t be stopped. The opposing tide successfully bribed one of his own friends to turn him in on trumped up false accusations- which he was found guilty of by means of public opinion. The damage was done. Reputation tarnished. Ministry over.

It sounds like a story we’d see play out on a Dateline special; yet it occurred over 2000 years ago. Yes, my friend is Jesus. He was murdered for crimes He never committed. That’s how it looks on our human level anyway. The truth is that He knew how it would all play out. (John 16) He volunteered. It couldn’t be murder if the victim was a willing sacrifice.

I lie there thinking how dark it must’ve looked to His followers. To His family. Had I been there I may have gone into hiding right along with them. Fearful of their own fates they ran like scared rabbits. I can only imagine their horror, anguish, dismay, and anger. The crowd was brutal. The lies blatant. The soldiers unforgiving in their scorn. Anyone truly touched by His life was at the lowest of lows. The earth was at its lowest of lows as darkness descended over the sky. (Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33) In the natural there was only defeat…..

https://www.videoblocks.com/video/calvary-hill-with-cloudy-sky-and-lightning-biytrgbfio3bi8xc

….But in another realm, at the exact same moment, the crescendo of the mightiest of victories was arising. While mankind hung its head the Kingdom of Heaven saw every enemy laid to rest. Matthew 27:51 and 52 shares that at the moment Jesus shouted and released His spirit the curtain in the temple sanctuary tore in two from top to bottom ripping open the wall between God and man forever. A living sacrifice had been made for all time. The earth shook. Rocks split. Tombs opened. What a moment of awe.

One event. Two totally different perspectives.

We tend to look at what we see with our eyes as our truth. “Our normal”. I was reminded while lying there having my ‘discussion’ with God that what I see is not all that is happening. There is so much more than what I am aware of. Herein lies the rub. I’m supposed to be aware of what He is aware of. I am supposed to be in tune with Him. It is my responsibility as a Christian to be ‘Christ-like’…oh, so, so I think like Him. Talk like Him. Act like Him. See things like He does. Psalms 36:9 says, “For you are the fountain of life, the light by which I see.” This is faith: ” The reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1. He is our reality.

As I am tempted to bemoan the natural things of this life I have been exhorted: “DO NOT LOOK IN THE NATURAL-SEE BY MY SPIRIT. Open your eyes to see My ways. Open your eyes to My heart. Open your eyes to see in the realm and flow of My spirit.” This is where life is at. The truth of “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT) is that I seek to see all of life through His eyes. The unlimited source of all creation is waiting for me to see from His perspective and live there. Then the natural things of this life burst open. There is no natural force that can stand against what we align ourselves with in His Spirit.

Listen..I hear a rising crescendo…..

Congrats

…and it’s over. In the blink of an eye the five year old boy with a natural aptitude for learning, despite the mischievous smile, has finished his senior year. Though to be fair, he graduated into adulthood some time ago. His sister would disagree, however, due to continued pranks and boyish behavior. Working alongside his dad for the last two years in an apprenticeship of sorts while finishing his studies has given him that edge of how the world really works. He’s never been a typical ‘teenager’ by American standards either.

I remember his first day of kindergarten. New work books and little readers sat on our round kitchen table awaiting his first attempts at written education. There were four of us seated there. Three students and myself began that day with Psalms 91 and a prayer of blessing for the year. My hands were full but those days were precious.

From the get go my brown eyed boy showed his true colors for which subjects he liked and which ones he didn’t. He was dubbed ‘the golden child’ early on by his older siblings as he flew through most of his subjects over the years…without really struggling too hard. Except for those darn language books. Age 6 or 16 that never changed. And still, to this day, it is that subject which stalled his finish.

This morning found that last English book completed-forever. A hands on outdoorsman by nature the years of reading/language instruction may not be as useful as the math and science anyway. I can’t imagine he will ever need to diagram a sentence on the job.

The Bible says in Psalm 139:13 that we were delicately knit together in our mothers womb and Jeremiah 1:5 confirms God has a plan for us before we are even born. What a wonderful opportunity I have been given to see the strengths and weaknesses of each of these children and teach them accordingly, individually, for their benefit. The sacrifices we have made have been worth it in my opinion. When I see these young adults blossomed into their natural abilities I can’t help but shed a tear or two. There’s pride in seeing your children pass on to the next stage in life after graduation from high school. There’s also a satisfaction in knowing their success was partially born on your back with daily prayer for guidance in such an endeavor. God has been faithful. Year in and year out He has provided the finances not only for the books, but also for not having a second income in the home. This full time job doesn’t come with a paycheck- not a financial one anyway. The dividends on this investment are far reaching and unending. It’s not been easy, but most things that are worth it aren’t.

Our newest graduate acts like his accomplishments aren’t a big deal. Upon congratulating him he shrugged his shoulders with a partial grin. He has no desire for a lot of attention, or a party. I’m pretty sure he is feeling more relief than anything else…since his research paper and final language book are both complete. He’s sure he will never revisit either one. Time will tell. Regardless, we are so proud of all he has done, all that he will do, and mostly we are proud of the man he is at his core.

Hope Springing Up

Just a few days before our last wintery blast of ice and snow I accidentally found a couple inches of hope buried under fall’s leaves. It was a milder day, a balmy 40°, so I decided to gather garbage which had collected during the last few cold months in my flower beds by the entry to the house. I knew my precious blossoms would be trying to appear in the coming weeks. I did not expect to see them yet. When I overturned about an inch of mulch on accident there they were: the pale green attempts at early spring tulips. NO! I hurriedly replaced their cover knowing what lie ahead for them before they can arrive safely.

February is like the Wednesday of the week here in southern Michigan. The first part is over; there’s still week to be had; but the weekend is on the horizon. Hump Day. We’re almost over the hump.

I hear sparrows chirping more loudly each day as more arrive back home from southern retreat. My husband swears he saw a robin a few weeks ago. I didn’t believe him at first, but others have reported the same. Geese are returning as well. Now, to feel it for myself. I await the manifestation of what I know is coming, but nature is already acting on.

Valentines Day wasn’t created in our Midwestern climates, though I’m truly thankful for the diversion it creates in the doldrums of recurring late winter storms. It was this ancient holiday of Valentines that brought us together in the warmth of our living room last night. For the 6th year in a row we celebrated by exchanging gifts and/or decorated boxes with a family member whose name we’d drawn a few weeks prior. Somehow we all drew the same names we drew last year. So my husband and the oldest son living in our home right now got off easy. They basically agreed to go to the store and buy each other the treats they liked best without any imagination whatsoever….because that’s how they like it. To each his own. It could have been worse: They could’ve handed each other five bucks at the exchange. Mark my words, next year it will be different.😂

Our daughter, youngest son, and myself used the last few weeks to concoct ideas that would make each other smile. She had drawn his name and proceeded to make a tri-plane in the style of the Red Baron, complete with a spinning propeller. She filled it with goodies and a stuffed dog.

He drew my name and made a dog house filled with a couple cute puppies (named Rose and Dot), a coffee mug, chocolate, and a lilac candle.

I drew my daughters name. I have to say a large “thank you” to all of the helpful Starbucks fans who’ve put their crafty ideas on Pinterest. With their ideas I managed to create a giant mock up of her favorite whip-topped cup of joe. Inside were a few goodies streamlined for her liking as well.

Another successful exchange. Now we march on. No pun intended. But I do hope March comes quickly without a lot of fanfare. Though the melting ice crystals scattered across the lawn are beautiful as they glisten in the sun….I’m ready to trade up.

The Purge

The word ‘purge’ can be defined as getting rid of whatever is impure or undesirable; to be rid, clear, or free of. This is what the first three weeks of my year has been about. Maybe it’s winter boredom. Maybe I have too much time to look around at my indoor environment when its cold outside. In either case the overwhelming urge to purge has overtaken me.

Toward the end of last year the phrase “get your house in order” rang on repeat in my mind. Spiritually I began to do so by prayerfully asking what junk needed to be filtered from my life? With fasting I prepared my heart for the new year. I questioned what I needed to dispose of to make room for the new and the fresh of God? In what ways did I need to lighten the load ‘of the sin that so easily does beset’ (Hebrews 12:1)?

What began as a spiritual journey soon spilt over into the natural. Cupboards, drawers, desks, closets, have each been emptied and sorted before being refilled with only half of their previous contents. It has felt good to burn bag after bag of items I can mostly classify as trash. Who needs 50,000 broken crayons anyway? Receipts from 2011 for items we no longer own? The shocking question I face again and again is how this crap (I can use no other term) has piled up this long in the first place.

Not everything is so easily sorted. At times I have come across items with soul ties that have made me cry. A book given with handwritten notation inside from someone I no longer have relationship with: I thought I was good…until I read the note and fresh pain spilled out. It was another opportunity for my heart to heal at its core.

Another recent instance is when in my cleaning phase I took down my kitchen curtains to wash them and inadvertently destroyed them. Oops. The ten year old white cotton battenburg laced edge curtains had seen enough dust and age to no longer be white, or redeemed. The bleach, soap, and bluing agent did them in once and for all. I was okay with their loss. They had served me well. The problem surfaced when I was faced with their replacement. New curtains/valences for five windows wouldn’t be cheap. But I have a sewing machine and the ability to use it. I asked God what I could use for fabric- yes, I asked Him. Not too much later a matched pair of antique lace tablecloths I own came to mind…. But I really like them: on my table. Yet, they would suit the windows perfectly. In that moment I had to question where my value system lie. I could hold on to ‘things’ or I could make use of the old for a new purpose. Considering I have other tablecloths I could use for the table I could purge my full drawer of them ….if I could let go. The first cut with my sewing shears drew a tear. I won’t lie. As I continued to measure and cut I prayed. I thanked God for helping me use what I have for better purposes. I have to be able to do that. If I have trouble parting with tablecloths there is a deeper issue at play.

The more I stitched, the more I saw something new come to life, the lighter I felt. As it turns out I like them on the windows maybe even more than on the table. My linen drawer closes much easier now as well.