Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Anniversary Day

I highly recommend falling in love in Autumn . . .  It's impossible to go through this season year after year without the memories and the feelings themselves welling up.  

Today was one of those anniversary days.

Skipping leaves and half dressed trees
     seem pleased about the warmish days.

The sun grows soft and big while sailing deeper to the south.
     Evening's long shadows escape to chase our feet at noon.

That same sun spins out golden strands of memory
     that bind me to a day just like today.

Warm sun, warm hands, warm cookies
       dripping ice cream on a cozy hill.
    Kaleidoscopes of dazzled light shift across our jeans
          and draw our eyes to red leaves up above.

The leaves that in their lazy way
     drift down and down to make mosaics
          on the bright green all around.

The golden strands that day wove hazy screens
       to push out time and place and people all around.
           A golden day that witnessed bonded hearts
                 those many years ago.

Those golden strands this day wrap warm memories
       around and leave me feeling seventeen and loved
           while standing in the grass.

Eyes closed with face set toward the reddish glow
     . . . for moments I could be both here and there.

His ringing laughter calls to me across the years,
       and also strong and real around the bend.

Smiling, warm, beloved still
    . . . I turn around and walk into today.


"O, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt His name together!"
                                        ~Psalm 34:3

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Golden Autumn Days

I just had to sit outside today and listen to the dancing leaves still clinging to the trees, and watch the leaves fall gently down, and feel the golden sunlight filtered through the leaves–before there are no leaves and the color changes to drab, and then to stark, and the wind loses its friendly sound and instead becomes a howl and wail to echo our somber moods of Winter in the north.

Obligingly, the farmer came today to harvest his crop of soybeans now bursting and dry on the vine.  Perfect for harvest, this week of sun and pleasant weather will stretch warm into next week if we are lucky.  Very warm today, even with the strong breeze.  And harvest watching, which only happens once a year, is worth more to me than one day of phonics, handwriting and numbers––at least for the younger crowd.  The quiet house still holds four older scholars today–I would have let them play outside, but they didn't ask.  Diligently pursing math, literature, science, history, languages and the arts . . . I hope the golden, gently-shifting light skipping through the windows is penetrating into their minds along with the subjects of their study. I'll urge them outside, too, this afternoon.

Creation is on my mind today–and beauty–and the Creator.  The miracles in the changing season.  The changes in the leaves and grass and all growing things as the sun travels too close to the horizon in the south to sustain the vibrant green, and so the gold and red and rust and even purple is now revealed. The marigolds are smiling at the whole world joining them in golden celebration, although the more tender members of my flower garden had to say good-bye with the heavy frost a few mornings ago. 

So, drawn outside by the extraordinary Autumn light and thoughts of Light, I sit here in the dappled radiance on the deck.

The sounds invade my sleepy mind.

Along with nearby tractor rumble and the sound of children's laughter, the hearty birds that keep us company thorough the snowy months are singing today to let me know they'd appreciate a seed or two, even though some Summer friends have flown away.

And this year, I have fallen in love with the wind.  The movement and the power and the sound itself makes my soul rise and sing praises to the Lord, my Maker.  Somehow it carries a message of comfort and peace––reminding me that I am small and yet loved by One infinitely more powerful than any force of nature.  I've leaned into the wind this year on walks and tried to learn not to be annoyed by the way it whips my hair around my face and instead enjoy the swirling.  I've opened my windows early and late to listen to its varied voice, and have fallen asleep to it's lullabies.  I've been amazed to wake in the morning and see that a full-sized playhouse was tossed across the yard in the night by the wind, as if it were a toy, indeed.  We've raced to shelter in the face of dark storms, in fear of the fury of the wind.  I've been soothed by the fragrance on the breeze of gentle morning and missed the wind on rare still days.

Knowing the wind has been here all along while I haven't paid attention, I wonder what else I've missed.

With the golden shower of leaves raining down around me even as I write these words, today may be the last day I hear the sound of the Summer wind rousing the leaves to dance and sing and soon the voices of Fall and Winter winds will prevail in bringing us along to the moods of other seasons.  As I listen again . . . the voice of Fall is already well mixed in.

Seasons.  I'm thankful for the seasons of the earth and of our lives.  This year I will be rewarded with meeting the child that wriggles in my womb today, just as winter takes hold across our land.  My hope is that the miracle of newborn life along with holiday sights and sounds and the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas will carry me far into the darkest months of the year before the longing for Spring and life starts to well up again.

But for this day and this week, I will rejoice in the light and breathe in the smells of this golden Autumn and worship the Lord while the gifts of peace and faith are swirling thick around me like the leaves at our feet and in the air.


"I'll praise my Maker while I've breath..."
       ~Issac Watts, in his hymn reflecting on Psalm 146

Praise the Lord!
     Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
     I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
                       ~Psalm 146:1-2

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September Rain

End of Summer Rain

Evening rain that rains straight down
     without a wind to raise alarm.

Windows open wide to hear the soothing song.

Peaceful rain on trees and rocks and grass. 

Dripping eaves and rivulets
     add gentle rhythm
          to the droning melody.

Quiet rain that puts us all to sleep
     with gentle voice and whispered lullabies. 

Falling water peaceful
     like the deep and even breathing of children sleeping
          undisturbed by steady rainfall just beyond
                their windowsill.   

Lord, thank you for this rain that breathes out peace.   
Thank you for this rain that brings good rest. 
Thank you for this rain. 
September rain.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Childhood Summer

Four pairs of bright blue eyes were peering at me out of dirt-dusted faces. And compared to all that dirt, the teeth were looking pretty bright as they smiled and laughed and eagerly told me all about the HUGE toad they had seen that had distracted them from the city and roads they have been building under the big maple tree in our back yard. They were wondering about various options for tracking down and capturing the toad.  I wasn’t really listening to their words as I looked at them from head to toe wondering if we could get them clean enough for lunch without a bath. Somehow all that dirt and sweat representing a couple hours of simple play, bike rides, and bug collecting was making me smile. Perhaps if we set up the baby pool today, we could keep all the mess outside.

The three amigos and the princess have come into their own this summer. Not dependent on the older siblings to come up with outdoor play schemes anymore, it’s been fun to see the things they’ve come up with to play on their own. The oldest kids were city born and raised on well-supervised outdoor play, with a 20-foot-radius from a parent at all times. For many years our inner-city metropolitan yard was the size of the proverbial postage stamp. This next group was raised out here from the start–with six acres of traffic-free, water-danger-free, outdoor landscape surrounded by hundreds of acres more of neighboring farms– and the four of them are just old enough now as a group to take advantage of it to the full. They have different boundaries and freedoms and different approaches to exploration. They have built-in best friends all day, every day. They act more like the boys (and the tag-a-long spunky sister) I’ve read about in old books–though fortunately I’ve yet to find snakes or owl pellets in their pockets when I do the laundry.

Childhood Summer.

Rivers made from sticks dragged through the mud
     and mountains made with plastic spades and hands. 
Later it’s handy to have a mountain as a ramp
     for pint-sized bikes practicing for moto-cross events. 
Rocks are made for smashing against rocks,
     and trees are made for climbing
          and somehow falling and landing 
               hard on hands and feet. 
Tractors come and cut and bale the hay
     which calls for better spots to watch
          from up atop the fort nearby the field. 
Popsicle messes dripping in the sun
     and running through the sprinkler on hotter days. 
Tadpoles become frogs on countertop
     and caterpillars brought inside transform
          to fly away as butterflies. 
Tiny cars forever lost in grass near
    kingdoms newly built under the maple trees. 
Feeding birds and rescuing birds from
     family cats without manners for our feathered guests. 
Balls and puppy–and running fast with flailing arms
     when puppy tires of sticks and toys
          and chases down the kids about his size. 
Bikes and glory on long dirt driveway and tiny bumps
     that thrill like crazy jumps off dangerous cliffs. 
Sliding and climbing up, swinging high and jumping,
     and running here and there through paths 
          made in the grass by dad. 
Deep safaris through tall grass which waves
     above the head and filters sunlight
           down onto the jungle floor.
Visits, old photos, and cookies with Mr. Friend.
     Mysterious animal tracks, new bugs and plants
          to discover all the way to the mailbox and back.  
Chalk on sidewalks and mud in outdoor pots
     set over “campfires” made of gathered sticks.
Wagons filled with everything and anything
      are pulled from here to there around the yard.
A foot ball game with Dad becomes a blooper reel
     that stars the youngest boy and girl
        who only know to grab and run…
           but where?  
And special evenings when we sit outside
     and watch the sky grow dark and stars grow bright
before we set off sparklers and impressive little bombs
     light up the night with color.

And every day is sprinkled
    with dirt and sand–
        or is it pixie dust? 
Open windows carry
    laughter on the breeze
      and catch me smiling. 
Happy for childhood summer
   that I get to watch
       and listen to again.


(Thanks to David O'Neal for the "boys under tree" photo.)  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One Thousand Summer Gifts

As so often happens, I was led to just the right thing at the right time.

A friend of mine sent me a link to a post she found helpful. She rarely reads blogs, so I thought I'd better go see what she was sharing with me. After reading that encouraging post by Ann Voskamp, I happened to notice her sidebar link to a Gratitude Community page. Curious, I clicked on it. Some time ago, Ann decided to start counting gifts in her life, things to be thankful for throughout her day. Her comment about her spontaneous experiment of keeping a gratitude journal? "Giving thanks for a thousand graces has changed my life -- to glorify Him in all things!" She shared the idea and many others have been blessed by participating in their own way. She includes her count of blessings at the bottom of her blog posts on Mondays.

holy experience

Well, it just so happens that for the past few weeks I have been intentionally noticing and journaling details and moments for which I am thankful, in keeping with my goal of Not Missing Summer. The blessings in things big and small, unusual and common, spiritual and earthy, pleasant and painful, planned and spontaneous, intentional and unintentional. The blessings in common things to clean, organize, eat, wear, enjoy, plan, play, create, mend and replace. The blessings related to the family I hug and hold and kiss...and clean, dress, feed, bandage, comfort, teach, and more. The rare things I find achingly beautiful–poignant reminders of a greater beauty. Reminders of the hope I deeply feel of a new heaven and new earth in which the redeemed will live, in glorified bodies strong enough to bear it, in the very presence of God. All the things the Lord has woven into my life right now. The daily gifts He has chosen for me. Once I started looking, it was like gathering in a ripe harvest of blessings all around me.

Writing it down helps me see God's story in my life–what He is teaching me, and how He is loving me. I write out half-formed prayers asking Him to let me live it well. My hope is to walk through my days with a heart of gratitude, practicing the presence of God right in the midst of busy daily life. Realizing that any steps I make towards this hope is by the grace of God, I like to write about seeing that grace, too. On my own, and very often, my senses and my spirit are quite dull. I'm sure those most often around me are surprised to hear I'm thinking these thoughts at all!

I've been enjoying keeping track of these Summer moments so much that I've started grabbing my journal and throwing it in my bag so I can remember and scribble in spare moments in parking lots and parks. I'm finishing most of my days jotting a few things down just before turning out the light for the night. For whatever reason, the Lord has blessed me with an upwelling of gratitude and peacefulness. I came into the Summer a bit desperate for some rest and deep cleansing breaths, and indeed rest has begun to seep into my bones. Gathering up blessings to write down has helped. Reading that others have been helped by keeping track of One Thousand Gifts was fun, too. Personally, I think it will be hard to stop at One Thousand.

Counting my Summer blessings...One Thousand Gifts or more.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Farming and faith

Farming takes faith.

In our neighborhood, the farmer who does the work in the fields around our house is a strong Christian believer, trusting the Lord to provide for his family. He shows remarkable calm in the face of wet and cold Springs, dry July, actual drought, impending hail, insect invasion or what have you. Whenever we talk to him, he has a cheerful peacefulness about the crops doing well, or well enough. We love watching him work. He has a predictable, steady work pattern and all of his fields are well managed.

Lately, I was also thinking about our common faith in seeds. That a kernel of corn or an old soybean dropped into a cold muddy field will spring up into a beautiful, green, food-producing plant is pretty amazing. It's an every day miracle. It's the type of thing no one would believe, except we've seen the evidence many times, even if we're not paying attention. I haven't gotten tired of showing our younger kids what happens when you put a seed in a clear cup with a wet paper towel. Just a little, dried out thing that looks like a rock, a sliver, a pebble, or in the case of poppy seeds–a little black speck of dirt. Add nothing but water, wait a few days, and the seed has fallen apart and a plant appears in its place. I mean really, how does that happen? The kids see it for the miracle that it is.

The first year we lived here, I was surprised to see that some of the farmers left their entire crop of dried out, brown corn stalks standing in the field over the winter. Being totally farming ignorant, it was a pretty sad sight. I thought maybe the crop had been ruined by drought and it wasn't worth harvesting. Six months of snow and freezing weather later, the ground dried out and here come the farmers harvesting their crops! Nothing could look more dead than those corn plants after a Minnesota winter–yet the Spring harvest contained millions of kernels of corn which would provide food for people and livestock with plenty leftover to plant again, with faith that it would once again spring to life.

Like this.

Or this (soybeans this time) right by our house. 

I found myself really thinking of kernels and new life over the past few months. I can't remember the last time that someone in our circle of friends died–then three died this Spring.

A 50-year-old wife and mother of four from our church died after a battle with leukemia. I had worked with her teaching pre-school Sunday school when Grace was that class, and she taught all of our children when they were 3-years-old.

A 78-year-old friend died of a massive stroke. Both Kevin and I found phone messages on our cell phones from him after he died, as he'd been looking for a 4-seater bench seat for the back of our van to replace our 3-seater. He'd found one.

And tragically and totally unexpectedly, a 24-year-old Bethel Band alumna and current Bethel employee, a young wife, pregnant with her first child, was killed while sitting in a traffic jam when a semi-truck hit her from the rear.

At about the same time as the Spring planting and near the time our first friend died, 1 Corinthians 15 was scheduled for me as part of the Bible reading plan that our family is slowly working through. A chapter filled with hope and the good news of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul, whom I normally don't think of as much of a parable guy, turns to a real life example of an every day miracle to explain the spiritual miracle of the resurrection of the dead. He writes that what is sown does not come to life unless it dies, bare kernels or wheat or other grain becoming a body of it's own type. He writes of heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. As always with Paul - sentences are helpful, paragraphs much better, entire chapters must be read to hear his progression of thought, and his letters (and the entire Bible itself) are to be understood in their whole. The whole letter influenced me towards paying attention to the kernels in the fields, the tadpoles transforming into frogs on the counter, the caterpillars transforming into butterflies before our eyes, and to the immortal souls of the people all around me–hidden in the tents of mortal bodies. So much mystery that we can't yet see or imagine, even with examples all around us. 

Hoping in the resurrection requires faith.

Lord, give us that faith that hopes in your Good News, and believes that seeds spring up into new life.

(I Corinthians 15 - English Standard Version)

The Resurrection of Christ

15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers,  of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Mystery and Victory

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Halleluia exhaled in every breath

 The January trees are fully awake, dressed in Summer garb, and waiting in their corner chapel.

Strong limbs raise a friendly wave
     and nod at passing clouds.

Whispered murmur, evening's breeze
     returns the cordial sign.

Currents of yesterday mixed with tomorrow
     weave comfortable robes of cooling mist.

Frog chorus antiphonies make echoes
     through the woodsy halls,
        while birds sing evensong
              over rhythmic insect buzz.

Grass, leaves, vines...a wild tangled green.
     Vibrant carpets. Lushness of life.

The atmosphere charged with tranquil vitality.

A dangerous peace
     that pushes out all unclean things
        and claims the space as
             holy sanctuary. 

The privilege, mine, to stand upon that hallowed ground.
Hallelujah exhaled in every breath.
The Spirit’s gift.


Hallelujah is a direct cry of joyful praise, meaning Praise Yahweh, 
while calling others to also join in joyful praise of our Lord.

Praise the LORD!
     Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
     I will sing praises to my God while I 
          have my being.
(Psalm 146:1-2)

Not missing Summer

This year I decided I am not going to miss Summer.

Last year, for a number of reasons, I managed to spend pretty much the entire Summer indoors. This year I've been intentional about wandering around outdoors at various times of day. Not walking for exercise, which I actually did last Summer with apparent obliviousness to my surroundings (I have a talent for gazing at the ground just beyond my toes during such walks)–but wandering, looking, seeking and finding.  Last evening, the rain had stopped and some teasing golden rays were shining outside the kitchen windows.  After staring absentmindedly for a few seconds, I exclaimed "Oh, I'm missing Summer!" threw my dish towel on the counter, and, vaguely aware of loved ones smiling at my outburst, I walked outside.

Breathing in deeply, I slowly made my way up the dirt road looking for details that have changed from yesterday–there is a lot to see.  My eyes were on green and flowers and bugs and dirt and stone.  Trying to gaze into the woods, at this hour veiled with deepening dusk just inches beyond the outer trees, I realized that the familiar trees of my Winter walks were completely obscured.  The smells were fragrant, earthy and unidentifiable.  The air heavy with leftover moisture, yet crisp with the new air moving in with the clear skies that would arrive overnight.  I went to my favorite corner, just out of sight of the house, with wetlands and woods all around, and stood still. Listening, feeling, gazing, wondering and praising.  A moment to capture in poetry. A gift of treasure for me.

It would have been more than enough, but unobservant me had failed to notice other treasure hidden in plain sight.  As I turned around to walk back home I suddenly saw the sky and actually gasped.  How could I have missed this in my walk down the drive!  My eyes had been all for the woods, and grass and green growing things.  Nothing but an old hayfield and soybeans to my right, after all.

But above the hayfield, the farm field and the distant wild woods of the amazing sky–dark and light warring together–explosions of purple and pink and blue and sailor's delight red.  Pure golden shafts reaching down to set the Western fields aglow even while our road still lay under the shade of passing storms.  The color reaching out from the light, from way over by the horizon into the dark clouds in the East for far more than 180 degrees, a huge bowl of sunset beauty.  The kind you want everyone to see.

Our hayfield is about 2 acres square, and I could see Lydia and Essie in our backyard on the other side.  I waved to them to come into the field for a better look–one look and 12-year-old Lydia was off for the camera.  9-year-old Essie and I met on the path.  We watched for a while, enjoying it together.

I'd like to say that Essie and I are kindred spirits, but in truth–I "try" to see beauty, and feel thankful for the capacity to appreciate God's glory in creation when I manage to notice it.  She is naturally drawn to beauty, patterns, and life of all kinds, has always loved everything in creation, and is gifted in observing it in unique ways and from surprising angles and also pouring it back out in an explosion of daily, original, artistic productivity.  She sees what others see, and also a lot of things that most of us miss.  I wanted to show her some of the things I had seen on my walk earlier so we went back past the purple wild flowers (and some new ones she pointed out to me) and laughed at the strange, huge fungus that had sprung up overnight that looked like a burnt squash. We did mosquito dances to avoid being bit, wondered at the strange ball of something green and hard with white dots that was hanging off an oak tree, and by noticing the tell-tale holes on a milkweed plant, found the first monarch caterpillar of the season.  We brought it home, plant and all, to watch it transform into a butterfly over the next three weeks.

As I stood again in our kitchen, setting the milkweed plant next to the aquarium of transforming tadpoles on the counter, I had just started thinking about writing about my enchanted hour after the kids were tucked in bed in just a few more minutes.

But my evening didn't turn out quite like that after all.

Just at that moment, another sound of Summer burst into reality.  The sound of happy boys playing in the last hurrah of the bedtime scramble turned into a painful cry–the type where I'm just about to say "Hey! I don't wanna hear that sort of screaming unless there's a lot of blood or the house is on fire..." just at the moment I look down and see a little boy's second toe twisted a bit, and bent sideways...where there isn't a joint.

"Um, Grace...go tell Dad that Ben's toe is, ah, bent sideways."

Within minutes Mom, Dad and 7-year-old Ben were headed to the ER, where I had plenty of time to think quietly about my evening while holding an ice pack on a sleepy boy's tender foot, or rubbing his back, or walking next to a wheelchair to X-ray.  Then doing a lot of waiting for the busy doctor to come reduce the fracture, buddy tape the toe to his big toe, and send us back home with a very cool foot boot on a very, very sleepy boy (accompanied by tired, and speaking for myself, crabby parents) in the wee hours of the morning.

Yes, this is my Summer.  I'm thankful not to miss it.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Listen to the wind

Listen to the wind. 

A morning wind, awake with the sun, 
     chasing rain and storms that thundered through the night
          but left no traces in the brilliant sky today.

A wind that greets the birds now singing with delight, 
     as if the morning were an unexpected thing.

A Summer wind 
     commanding lush, green trees to wake and dance today– 
          shaking lazy, gathered pools from vibrant leaves 
   to rain again in encore; 
        this time 
             down and down and down 
                   to woodsy floor. 

Clean and shiny verdant life now shimmers in the morning sun.

This is the sound of living trees rejoicing in their strength. 
I think I hear their voices…
     satisfied rumbles of roots that burrow deep in rain drenched earth; 
     sated leaves thrumming with life drawn up to the highest veins; 
     bark that creaks and cracks as sapwood bursts
             into a new and living ring;  
         whispered joys of 
              growing, reaching, stretching to the sun.  
                   The sun that is the lifeblood of the tree.

Can you hear that, too, within the clamor of the wind?

Listen to the wind. 

The type of wind that rolls from tree to tree 
     like waves upon the deepest sea.  
          The rolling and rolling that fills the world 
                from East to West and North to South, 
             but doesn’t stop to crash upon a shore.

The rushing through the grass 
     that chases little creatures 
           back down holes 
                 after ventures up to
      sneak a smell of new cleansed earth, 
               and sneak a peek at rain drops 
          clinging to the grass above their heads ~
                 which shower them instead
                          to drench their boldness.

Listen to the wind.

This is no Autumn wind 
     that rustles past and urges us 
         to sit by cozy, indoor fires 
              or run outside, 
     brisk amid the muted colors all around. 

This is no Winter wind 
     that whistles lonely tunes 
          or hollow wails 
               that make us shiver
           with the longing of our souls. 

This is no Spring wind 
     bringing tender wisps of hinted scents 
          to fill us up with hope of warmth 
               and living things 
           with each deep breath.

This is the wind of full-blown Summer, 
     of life and power and joy in all Creation.  

This day, a symphony of sounds
     and morning light on world so fresh and new. 
          Echoes of Morning in those days
            when all things were declared so Very Good.

And it’s early; 
     the house is still,
         with drapes pulled wide to greet the dawn 
                in all its light and sound and scent.

So I lie in my bed and listen to the wind.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Super Fix-it Woman a.k.a. Mom

It might be a slight exaggeration to say that I achieved Superhero status this week.

Spring has sprung, mud season has nearly ended and bikes have been unpacked from the Blue Shed.

Everyone was amazed to discover that his or her bikes had shrunk during the Winter.  Fortunately, we have bikes to spare.  All bikes lined up.  Everybody finds one that fits and off they go, one after another, flying in the wind down the driveway and dirt road.  Jumping off small dirt ramps as if it were a motocross exhibition.  Mud puddles parting and causing small tidal waves of splashes and splatter that will put Oxyclean to the test.  Passage to distant corners of our local universe suddenly available to all.

Well, not quite all.

There was one problem.  Jonathan, who at three-and-a-half has moved up in rank to full amigo companion to the other two amigos and accustomed to joining in the adventures of any of the older siblings (he's not your average 3-year-old!), is unable to ride a bike.  Left in the dust near the house, or dangerously hitching rides on other bikes - something needed to be done.

I knew just the thing.  Training wheels.  Now.

Out came the wheels, which I was surprisingly able to find in a bag in the back of a laundry room cabinet on my first try.  Next, the only open-ended wrench I saw in the tool box was the right size, which I consider a minor miracle.  Standing on the front porch with training wheels and wrench in hand, I called for the boys to bring me the smallest bike, currently riderless and abandoned in the shed.

There was skepticism, but the boys delivered the bike.  I proceeded to take the rear-wheel-assembly apart while Ben wondered out loud if it might be better to wait for Dad, and Sam crouched next to me watching closely to make sure I didn't lose any parts while offering commentary on the best way to approach the project.  I proceeded to reassemble the wheel, this time with perfectly placed training wheels out to the side.

Mission accomplished!  Cheering actually erupted among the crowd. They were quite impressed.

I became aware that a suspicion was forming in their minds that I might actually be a Superhero.  Some recent evidence of Super Fix-it powers.

Putting training wheels on the bike without losing a single nut or washer.
Getting the Lego piece out of the vacuum cleaner tubing–– a deep and mysterious task.
Painting not one, but two bedrooms while Dad was out of town (Ok this was mostly due to Grandma's hard work, but I got some credit, too...)
Fixing the plaster on an old crumbling wall in the staircase.
Fixing the loose baseboards in my bedroom.
Figuring out how to move the giant circa 1960's deep freeze when half a dozen eggs fell and smashed behind it (this event was worthy of an "I Love Lucy" episode... and I may yet write about it)
Unplugging a bathroom sink with nothing but ingredients from the kitchen and a plunger.  Bonus!  Vinegar and baking soda provide exciting chemistry lessons while the sink gets clean.

I vividly remember the day I thought my Dad had acquired true magical powers - having secretly installed an automatic garage door opener and with remote in his windbreaker pocket, he amazed my 6-year-old me with commanding the door to open and close by saying the magic word "abracadabra!"    When he showed me how the remote worked, I was no less amazed.

These days, wireless and remote technology of any kind is taken for granted by my kids.  Of course we can get email while sitting in the parking lot.  Who ever heard of a phone with a cord?  Even one of our air conditioners has a remote.   I'm not sure some of the kids are aware that the TV channels can be changed by buttons on the machine itself, leading to small panics when the remote control is no where to be found and the Olympics are about to begin.

But observable Fix-it Skill with actual tools, multiple parts, and preferably some grease, paint or other substance to leave small smears of evidence on jeans and cheeks and Mom's frizzy hair is still quite impressive.

At least to boys between the ages of 3 and 7.  If you're looking for a bit of an ego boost, I recommend keeping a few around.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Light and joy keep poking in...

Recently, I was thinking about the meaning of communion and the symbolism of His body broken for me, and His blood poured out for me, and unexpectedly I had an upwelling of love for our Lord Jesus and His sacrifice for us. It was wonderful for affections for Him to break through the mundane superficiality of my life and the experience was received as a gift. I knew there was nothing in me that had changed. He had opened my heart and I was grateful. Heading into Holy Week and Easter weekend I was hoping that by my own observance of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and then the joyful Resurrection Sunday that I could somehow recapture those feelings I had a few weeks ago, and also, somehow think deeply and dig deeply into my heart to get the whole picture of what He has done for us, for me. Instead–I've been sleep deprived, busy, irritable and distracted and I'm flying up to Easter with only surface attention to the passing days. How like God to give me a gift when it is obviously not of my own work and then to let me see what happens when I try to "make" my own experience!

When I was in the middle of my deeper affections a few weeks ago, I found myself reading through the Passion Week scriptures and really noticing the experience of the women who were closest to Jesus. Oh, what love! What darkness they experienced to the core of their being! And finally, what joy! They followed Him to the cross; they watched the horror unfold; they clung together; they watched their last hope fade; they watched Him suffer on the cross; they stayed until He died from crucifixion; they watched as His death was confirmed with a spear thrust to the side; they stayed to see Him taken down; they followed to see Him laid in the tomb; they left to prepare spices and ointment as darkness fell; they observed the Sabbath and left the tomb alone for agonizing hours as He lay alone, His body unprepared; they came again to anoint His body as soon as they could possibly call it dawn; they arrived to find an empty tomb; they were greatly distressed; they received the good news and explanation of the resurrection from angels; one stayed and heard the Lord Himself speak her name; they returned to the disciples to share the news of the angels and with the report of seeing Him alive... only to be received as women speaking idle talk.

But–their story was confirmed–He appeared again, and again, and again.

They loved, they feared, they followed, they watched, they were devastated, they were confused, they grieved, they cared, they waited, they went to care for his body–all dark, dark days. I try to imagine the darkness of their grief, but it is well beyond my experience. Then they were the first to hear the good news from angels, to find the empty tomb on the third day . . . just as He promised. Mary, lingering and thinking that her grief had been compounded by enemies stealing her Lord's body, is instead called by name by the resurrected Jesus. Her joy is well beyond what I can imagine.

Thinking through my impossible plan to try to feel my way through the weekend really experiencing the dark leading up to Easter, and then the joy–I find that I'm never able to get to that place of grief because the joy and light keep poking in. I'm too tired to concentrate on keeping them out and feel the darkness. I know He is alive! I can't forget the Good News because it is the strength and joy of my life. I don't feel separated from my Lord during Good Friday. I am, at times, overwhelmed with what He has done to atone for sin, once for all. But death could not keep Him in the grave. His sacrifice is perfect and He conquered death for Love and His Glory. At the same time He is here with me on my superficial, tired days, leading me and carrying me and taking me where I need to be step-by-step and giving me the gifts of feeling His presence and feeling deep affection for Him when it is best for me.

Let us remember His suffering.  Let us believe in Him and receive His salvation. Let us be transformed into His bride. And if in our weakness, poor affections and pale imagination we can't grieve properly on this Good Friday for our Lord's dark day or for our sins, let us rejoice that we live on this side of Easter and that what He has accomplished is not dependent on what we do at all.

Yes, let us rejoice this Easter and every day, for the Lord is Risen, Indeed!


Friday, March 26, 2010

The rock craze

The rock craze was started, innocently enough, by 10-year-old Nat.  

This week, he found a handful of interesting small rocks and brought them inside for cleaning and examination. He asked if it was possible to find diamonds or gold in our yard. Although I responded with a distracted, "quite doubtful," he proceeded with some optimism to see if he had managed to find at least some semi-precious stones in the mud. After discovering that the kitchen sink was not my first choice for rock bathing, he went outside into the sunshine on the deck with a bucket of water and started cleaning. This activity caught the attention of three younger brothers who had been outside playing together. It's been a long time since any event related to water has been seen outside the bathtub. With an innate attraction to messes of any kind, Ben, Sam, and Jon (aged 7, 5, and 3) were soon at work collecting rocks of their own and crowding around the bucket–excited to see that clean, wet rocks do indeed look different than mud-covered rocks and plain, dry rocks.  

Nat asked me for help in figuring out if some of his small rocks were granite, so I found a website with a Rock Identification Key. There was also a good Introduction-to-Rocks article on this site, which I found quite interesting. When I first showed it to him, he was dismayed. "I don't want to read all that!" He just wanted some good pictures for comparison with what he was holding in his hand. Turns out that, yes, he had several little pieces of granite. By this time, 12-year-old Lydia and nearly-9-year-old Essie had gotten roped into the rock craze as well. They were interested in reading the articles and seeing how the charts could zero in on the type of rock so easily. Our own First Field Guide for Rocks was suddenly in high demand. Several trips to the big rock pile next to the farm field were planned and executed.

Nat moved on to preparing a box for his collection, marking off a grid inside on a paper towel cushion and grouping them by type. He got out the hot glue gun to hold them in place. He has a very neat and tidy collection of uniformly sized specimens. Today he figured out a way to display more rocks on the inside lid of his box and said it would be nice if we could look for rocks on the shore of Lake Superior sometime.

Ben and Sam wanted boxes, too, and fortunately for them, getting rid of old boxes is not my strong point.

Ben went for a big box with tiny rocks inside (he made a grid on paper towels, too, but wasn't allowed near the hot glue gun).

Sam prepared a medium box with medium rocks inside (no glue gun for him either, he settled for tape inside and decorated his box with crayons).

Jon decided on his own that the kindling box would be a terrific spot for his display. He dumped my kindling sticks outside in the yard and replaced them with three large rocks.

Essie had been sitting quietly by herself while planning her box.  Suddenly she went into action. She managed to find a sturdy box with an attached, hinged lid.  She bent over the table cutting and gluing little rings made out of strips of cereal boxes – one inch tall, and one to two inches in diameter.  She hot-glued these rings upright on the bottom of her box so that from the top there were circular compartments for each individual rock.  This had the advantage of holding the rocks in place, but the rocks could still be picked up - unlike her siblings who chose either to glue the rocks in place, or to leave them free to roll around - needing to be set up over and over again.

Lydia concentrated on scientific collection methods. She found a canvas bag and filled it with things to make a good record of what she found. Ruler, notebook, Ziplock bag, pens and water bottle included. She came back from the rock pile with some beautiful rocks, which she had smashed open, sketched, and labeled. She had a pretty good idea of what types of rocks she had in her collection because she had learned a lot by reading on-line: granite, quartz, slate, basalt, and something really hard to smash that had streaks of rusted iron in it. Another with flecks that looked like gold. 

By this time everyone was pretty impressed that there was so much to learn about the rocks just in our own neck of the woods, let alone all the rocks in the world. We wished we had a specific field guide for Minnesota rocks. Nat asked if there were a thousand types of rocks in the world. Making a wild guess based on the earth being a pretty big place, basically made of rocks, I quickly answered, "Oh, yes, I'm sure . . . "  followed quickly by my realizing that there aren't nearly that many elements on the periodic element chart; followed quickly by my realizing that rocks are of course made of more than one element creating various compounds under various conditions;  followed up by my realizing that I know next to nothing about rocks and that in reality I didn't know if there were fifty or ten-thousand types of rocks. Now we know that there are more than 700 varieties of igneous rocks, not to mention sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks.  One website said that over 3500 distinct minerals have been described worldwide.

We are suddenly on a quest to really see rocks–similar to my personal quest to really see trees–which leads to my ever increasing wonder that I have never thought much about any of these things before, even while "enjoying Nature."  It's like I've been seeing it without glasses on. There is so much more to see than I have been seeing.  

But the main thing I loved seeing this week is the way that collecting, displaying, and learning about rocks reveals such unique and interesting things about each child's personality, interests, learning-style and approach to life.  They each have their own way of finding rocks, deciding which rocks are good for collecting, displaying their rocks and sharing what they have found with others.  Ben even got to take his to church for his Wednesday night class to fulfill a requirement for a Nature Collection, which helps the kids see how God reveals His glory through His creation.  His teachers and friends Ooh'd and Ahhh'd over his Big-Box of nicely displayed Very-Small-Rocks and he got to add a new pin to his ribbon. Nat found himself wishing they still did Show-and-Tell in Fourth Grade. He took his box along in the van, just in case he got a chance to show one of his friends.  Lydia followed me around with her carefully selected and washed collection until I had the time to really sit and look at each one and comment on both the rock and her journal entries related to each one. And everyone wanted to show Dad everything.

The rock craze turned out to be a wonderful surprise.

Lord, once again I plead for new eyes to see . . . trees, rocks, my own children, and everything you have to show me.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Joyful hope of Spring

Fragrant breezes swirl old leaves in corners of the yard.

Tiny buds give certain hope of bursting life inside.

Brown grass dancing encores
     as last year’s life seeps out
          to mix with earth and new scents
               on the wind.

Mud itself a reassuring sign.

Bright, warm sun to mix it all
     in joyful hope of Spring.


* * *

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hidden in plain sight.

Though it happens frequently, I'm always surprised when I realize I haven't been seeing something that is right before my eyes.

A few weeks ago, before the rain started, when the snow was deep and crisp and even...I decided to head outside for a walk and drag the big rolling trash can back from the end of the long driveway by hand.  The trash can sits just at the corner where I first looked closely at the January trees, so I thought I'd go back and stand right in the same spot and look at them again before they begin to put on their emerald garments for the new season.  While I was looking up at them, I was thinking that for five years I have been trying to learn how to identify trees by looking at their leaves with very little success, and now, in the leafless Wintertime I have discovered there are a lot of distinct features of each type of tree that have nothing to do with the leaves.  This has been helpful to me in finally making some small headway in really being able to see the trees and recognize them. In particular, I have become an expert at spotting the wild elm trees that all died during one season three or four years ago.  The reason I am interested in these is that they are standing, dry, easy to harvest, ready-to-burn firewood for our fireplace.  These trees have become important to me in a way that no other trees have been important.  I can now spot these medium-sized trees everywhere and am amazed that we weren't all full of grief at their demise, which at the time we barely noticed.

All Winter as I have taken walks, I have been looking at the same stretch of woods along the same driveway taking notice of the same dead firewood trees, which we have slowly been harvesting for firewood.  On this day, I was wondering if I could also tell what the other trees were, by this time sure I had found all the firewood trees in the woods along that well-walked driveway.   I decided to really look at all the oaks along there to try to see what is oakish about an oak.  And halfway back, I looked up at the branches way up at the tips and stopped stunned.  Right in the middle of the silhouette of branches against the sky - way up high, not too far into the woods, I saw the tell tale signs of an old dead tree.  Small finger branches missing, just the medium and larger branches pointing up like spears to the sky.  It was a dead oak, a big dead oak, and it had been dead for several years.  Looking lower, some bark was peeling off - but it stood strong and tall and I didn't see any rot.  A perfect firewood tree of the best type of hard wood, and most likely already seasoned and ready to burn!  I had walked that walk dozens of times, looking for firewood, praying for firewood, being thankful for firewood and had totally, completely missed this huge tree.

I had not lifted my eyes high enough to see it.

Ever since, I've been thinking.

This hundred-year-old tree has been a happy surprise providing enough good hardwood to stretch this season and start next year's wood pile.  It is an encouragement to me of the Lord as Provider–that He can be trusted to know of our needs and provide for them at just the right time and to reveal it to us when we will be most blessed by it. I'm reminded that He is my Abba Father and I am his child and I can rest in Him. I'm reminded that I'm more precious than a sparrow and the lilies of the field and I do not need to be anxious about my needs.  I think of Peter and the temple tax and Jesus directing him to go and take the first fish out of the sea and take the coin out of the fish's mouth for the payment of the tax. This is not some slight-of-hand magic trick like an old uncle pulling a coin out from behind an ear.  The fish had a real life, which included the mysterious acquisition of a coin, which in turn, eventually, in God's perfect timing, became the provision for Peter and Jesus.  Likewise our old tree had a life of its own, day after day for a hundred years, serving many purposes before finally providing wood for us.  God's designs are intricate and are fulfilled in the fullness of time, His sovereignty infinite and perfect.

Before we call, He is answering.   He is answering before I have eyes to see it.

I'm reminded that my prayers are often small and hesitating, and even then I look for small answers.  But with a new appreciation for big trees hiding in plain sight, and with encouragement from AndrĂ©e Seu, I am now feeling urges to make outlandish requests.

O Lord, give me new eyes to see!


Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking, I will hear. ~Isaiah 65:24
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17:20
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." ~ John 14:12-13 
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." ~ Matthew 10:29-31 
When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” ~Matthew 17:24-27
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."~Matthew 6:25-33

*It's possible that I got the idea about the coin in the fish's mouth not being a slight-of-hand trick from a John Piper sermon...I have just the vaguest memory of him describing the life of that fish... 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

When chores aren't a chore.

We started heating our home with wood three years ago and I have a secret.

Firewood chores are my favorite chores.

I'm sure a big part of that is because they aren't actually chores I have to do. They aren't anywhere on the rotating list I hold in my brain of all the things that I consider myself responsible for. Depending on the weather or my mood I can walk outside (and away from my less favorite things like cleaning closets or digging Legos out of the couch) and over to wherever they are working–cutting and hauling, splitting and stacking.  My arrival is always met with smiles and appreciation that I would come out and help. And I do help with whatever they are doing, admire my husband's masterful handling of the chainsaw, direct the older kids who are helping in the best way to balance a load or steer the sled, play with the younger boys who are mostly there just for fun, and sit for a while and just look at the scenery. They are just impressed with me being there. Wow! A mom who hauls wood! I lend a hand for as long as it's fun, and then head back indoors under the guise of making cookies, coffee and hot chocolate whenever I want.

The daily chores of bringing in firewood to stack a day or two's worth in the mudroom, and armloads to stack by the fireplace are always done by the kids now.  And the best part is that we have discovered that I have an unlikely talent for building and keeping the fires going.   That means I get to do the part of heating with wood that everyone at our house actually wants to do.  Tend the fire.  Kevin has started calling me Firegirl, which makes me smile, and I'm not going to complain about that in our 21st year of marriage.

But, I was thinking recently there must be something more that makes me love heating with wood despite the constant mess-trail of the wood coming right into the heart of our house to the high-efficiency fireplace in our living room, the extra dust everywhere and all of the attention the fire needs to keep it burning 24-hours-a-day for six months or more each year. Yes, it's cozy and my favorite spot to sit is right next to the fire. Yes, the light is just right and makes everything look better in its golden glow. Yes, it's great the kids have meaningful work among their daily responsibilities. They feel big and strong knowing they are really helping out. Those things are nice, but what I realized is that every time I pick up a piece of wood to put it in the fire I am thankful. Thankful that we can heat our home for free with wood that Mr. Friend generously allows us to take from his land.   Thankful that we have been able to keep on top of our need to find, cut, move, split and store enough dry wood for the winter. Living where nighttime temperatures are often 80 degrees colder outside than inside, I'm thankful for the provision of the warmth itself. Because we have a stack of wood sitting there, I'm mindful of how much wood we are using and naturally want to conserve it by loading and tending the fire as best as I can. Since by my own choice I most often am the one who loads the fireplace, it is as if the Lord's provision for our family is literally passing through my hand in a way that is obvious to me. Every time I pick up a piece of wood, my heart recognizes it as a gift and says . . . Thanks.

So, I was wondering why I don't feel that same way about the other things that I hold in my hand every day.  Does my heart well up with thanksgiving for all the work of my hands?  The laundry that I wash and dry and fold that comfortably and warmly clothes our children better than royalty in other times and places?  The abundant, convenient and varied food that I prepare for our large and never-truly-hungry family?  The beds that I make where comfortable toddlers sleep under thick and soft blankets?  The hot water during baths?  Books to put back on shelves and pieces of art to be dusted? How about harder things like dirt tracked in from fields where the kids can play in childhood freedom? The paper scraps and sparkles all over the floor after the kids make beautiful Christmas ornaments? Maybe even those Legos that can be found in every nook and cranny, dropped by little engineers?

As a mother, all these things pass through my hands each day – great provision for all of our needs – and often my heart completely misses it.

Yes, I need help with this.

O Lord, give me new eyes to see the blessings in my life, and a heart that recognizes each gift that passes through my hands, so that my work is transformed by thanksgiving.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

A wildly exciting event.

I know lots of people think we lead a wildly exciting life . . . and I just thought I'd take the time to share some of our excitement today.  This event is so exciting that it has captured the attention of three little boys for a couple of hours (and the occasional attention of the rest of us for the same amount of time).  Good thing we have 4 windows with good vantage points from that side of the house.

OK, get ready...and no, this is not about the chickens coming outside into the sunshine again–although their presence in the yard did add to the overall atmosphere of excitement when the following exciting event occurred.

The big brown UPS truck broke down in our driveway!

Yep, he pulled in, setting off wild warning barks from our helpful watchdog Tipper, which is exciting enough.  Small feet pounded to see who was coming to the door.  Mr. Brown delivered our very small package, which turned out NOT to be the anticipated birthday box for Lydia, but only vitamins for Dad.  Then Mr. Brown returned to his truck, gave the little boys a wave and hopped into the truck while they all watched and . . . nothing happened.   The boys watched as nothing continued to happen.  A totally dead truck!  The cheerful man got out and looked under the huge hood, but apparently could see nothing more in there than I could.  He made a phone call.  From the windows, this generated a lot of excitement and some speculation about whether Mom would have to go outside and help the man fix the truck, or perhaps give him a jump-start.  I found this idea quite amusing.  I convinced the boys to just keep watching.

It got more exciting as a second big brown UPS truck had to come and pick up the packages so that all those people checking on-line for their delivery times would not be disappointed.   Even more exciting, a supervisor so important that only part of his outfit was brown came to look under the hood personally - and then Mr. Supervisor Brown came to the door to reassure us that a tow-truck was on the way.  Oh my.  A tow truck big enough to move the big brown UPS truck.   We couldn't wait.  Well, it turns out we DID have to wait, but it was worth it because a gigantic bright red tow-truck finally arrived and did tow that big brown truck right out of the driveway.

Oh, we love Brown.  Bye-Bye Brown!

Whew!  It's a good thing we all slept through the propane delivery this morning or I don't think we could have stood it.


(Promo pic for UPS)
Treasure from the Junk Drawer
copyright © Sara Shull
•All text and poetry by Sara
•Art illustrations by Sara
•Photos by Sara or the Shull kids
~~~~All rights reserved~~~~

Bible verses:
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV)