24 April 2008

'Til Death Do Us Part

More than the scent of a freshly-mown spring lawn (46) or the charm of my little lady's ruffled, lacy blouse (45); more than the early-morning rain drops (47) or my polka dot shower curtain (51), I am grateful today for a mother and father who love each other (52).

22 April 2008

Joining the Gratitude Community

Beginning 12 March 2008, I have kept a list of gifts. I'm up to about 45 now, and can no longer keep all these wonderful moments to myself. This idea came to me from Ann at Holy Experience. Feel free to visit her blog and join the gratitude community.
Here are some highlights from my list so far:
5. Violets from a friend's yard
8. Full moon, perfectly framed in my window
9. Harmonica music, played specially for me in my office
15. Stories and articles from my writer friend
17. Paper doll play
19. Antique hat, with box
22. Microwaved CD
23. Carved bowl from Hawaii
31. Tall blooming tree, glowing pink in the morning light
33. Words from my friend: "Go where you understand the language."
34. Children in the back lot: "Would you like to hold our puppy?"
43. Bouquet of lilacs

21 April 2008

Homeschool Kids Write

Today, I am borrowing a post idea from my young friend Emily Rose. While I am not officially in school these days, I like to think that I am being homeschooled every day by my Heavenly Father. It is therefore fully appropriate for me to do one Homeschool Kids Write assignment!

Assignment six: The Time Machine, the first novel written by H.G. Wells and published in 1895, tells the science fiction story of a man who travels through time. You have found a time machine. You may go back to any one day in your life to live over. What day would that be and why did you chose that day? What would you do the same or different?

I would choose to go back to two days, not one. They were the very first that hinted at all of fall, and two girlfriends stayed the weekend with me.

On Friday, we drove out to a little farm nearby to purchase the produce for the weekend. Oh, what lovely things we found! Pears, peaches, tomatoes, green beans...it seemed they grew and sold everything a girl's heart could desire. (Well, everything her stomach could desire, I suppose.)

We cooked, we cleaned, we had everything ready for a special Friday evening supper. Breakfast the next morning was also exquisite--left over challah made into French toast with fruit toppings.

That Sabbath afternoon, we decided in favor of a walk. Two of us started out, not knowing when to expect our other companion back from her activities. We had meandered along for a couple of miles when our friend called to ask where we were, and if she might catch up with us.

As we happened to be just near a friend's driveway, we stopped in there to visit and wait for our friend to come and park her car. This is where I would change just one thing: if I could live the day again, I would ask for a large glass of water and drink it to the dregs before continuing on the rest of the walk. We thought to make calls on various friends along the way, with whom we expected pleasant company and conversation.

Shortly after setting forth again, we began to get thirsty. "No matter," said we, "for we are near our friends' house in this pleasant country, and they shall give us a drink." Those friends, however, were not at home, and thus could not give us a drink.

We continued on our way, around the bends and past the gardens, thinking to call on others along the way. When finally we arrived in a housing development, we began to count all the people we knew who lived there. Alas, there was not time to visit them all, so we settled for one parently couple who invited us in for a few minutes of rest, refreshment, and gazing at maps of Germany. Had they not made prior plans to be away for the evening, we would have stayed much longer.

Then came the journey back to the car at our first friends' house, which we just finished by sunset. Oh, how glad we were not to be out walking after dark! And, Oh, how surprised were our friends and their children when they learned that we had been out walking the entire day!

When later I clocked the distance we traveled, the sum total came to eight miles. The weather was perfect, the sunshine just soft and sweet, yet bright, and the air had such a festive flavor that I could have lived that day for a long, long time.

17 April 2008

Almost Blooming

How utterly delighted I was to find my favorite neighborhood dogwood tree almost blooming yesterday! Words cannot describe my glee. The blooms were notably wider in the afternoon than they were mid-morning. When the right moment comes, the plants always know it, and take advantage of the oppotunity for growth.

I aspire to be like a plant, using the rays of God's love to the utmost effect in my growth.

A Call for Recipes

If my lemon balm keeps growing as voraciously as it is so far this spring, I will have the stuff coming out my ears. Does anyone have a favorite way to use it, aside from tea? I'd love to hear from you!

More Tulips

My office is in the same building as a small Christian bookstore. Several times a week, a wisened little lady sits and visits in the store, her resting point on her afternoon walk. Some days, she stays for hours, basking in our company.

We've seen pictures of her daughter's wedding, and one among us has taken her to the dentist, the grocery store, and out to eat for her birthday. We love her.

Our lady lives next door to people who have lovely flowers in their yard, and somehow or another, she has secured permission to pluck as many of them as her heart desires. I know not whether she picks any for herself; I do know she picks an abundance for us, for me.

Thus I have flowers on my desk again today, their bright colors out-done only by my friend's sheer bounty.

16 April 2008

Purple Tulips

My back "yard" is really a parking lot. I, however, cannot resist the edge of dirt along the fence. It's not the greatest soil there, so I do not plant vegetables, but last fall I did bury thirty purple tulip bulbs beneath the earth.
Two days ago, I noticed the first color in the first few buds. Will you believe me if I tell you I rejoiced over those few as much as I would rejoice over fields as flowerful as the one shown above? I have plans to pick a few this evening--one for my kitchen window, and maybe three for my dining room table.
My flowers remind me how God, our Father, rejoices over us with gladness, as well. (See Zephaniah 3:17.)

10 April 2008

I've always been glad you were born.

Yesterday was my dad's birthday. "I've always been glad you were born," I told him, and he laughed.

Here are some things I've learned from him over the years:
  • Baked potatoes, Bush's beans, green salad, and string beans make an excellent breakfast.
  • There are exceptions, but statistics do tell you important things.
  • A little kindness goes a looong way.
  • Some things are worth doing even if Mom is the only one who knows the reason why.
  • Always send people away from your garden with a sack full of produce.
  • Expect a man to open your car door.
  • Stick with your commitments.
  • If you hear people out and treat them well, they'll most often like you even if you have to tell them no sometimes.
  • Be careful with money. Keep track of where it goes, and don't spend it needlessly.
  • Don't cut corners on having good food in the house.
  • Make decisions in view of the long-term possibilities.
  • Pray and study God's word daily.

09 April 2008

The Minister's Cat

While my dear friend Elizabeth Joy sat with my boss for a meeting this afternoon, her children Emily Rose and Forest were my delightful office charges. I have decided there should be more such meetings, as I rarely play with paper dolls these days, much less as part of my job.

We also passed the time with a charming little game called "The Minister's Cat". The game is best played with a large group in a circle, but we managed well enough with the three of us. We highly recommend it for any afternoon tea party, or just for speedily passing the time.

Here's how to play:

1. Arrange the players in a circle.
2. Begin clapping to establish a steady rhythm. Each strong syllable of the sentences spoken should get a clap, or an accent.
3. Each person must describe the minister's cat by inserting one adjective starting with the letter "a" into the sentence "The minister's cat is a BLANK cat," until the rhythm is broken. No one can repeat a word any other player has already used. The word need not make sense in describing a cat; it need only start with the proper letter and be a descriptive word. (The minister's cat is an angry cat...The minister's cat is an awful cat...The minister's cat is an able cat...The minister's cat is an auspicious cat...and so on, as many times around the circle as you can go without making a mistake.)
4. When the rhythm gets broken, move on to the next letter of the alphabet. (The minister's cat is a beautiful cat...The minister's cat is a broken cat...The minister's cat is a bossy cat...)

I hope you enjoy the game as much as we do!

08 April 2008

Seed Balls

Two women and two children, all bright-eyed and eager, piled into a van on a mission. We had waited weeks for this moment, this point of decision, yet when the moment itself arrived, it seemed that we could find no place worthy of our lofty goal.

Worthiness came in an un-looked-for form: we needed the ugliest piece of roadside dirt we could find, a piece of dirt visible to the passing multitudes and likely to remain bare during the foreseeable future.

Every roadside needed our little clay balls filled with wild flower seeds. But which stretch of dirt needed them more than the others?

At last, all four pairs of eyes settled on the same ground. Turning around and pulling over, we carried our cookie sheets of potential and possibility out over the soil, scattering little balls of seed here and there along the road.

We all four prayed for their safety and fertility, promising to one another that no one else should know where we deposited our high hopes (which is why we have no photos to share with you today). I have prayed for them each day since, trusting that the God who made the seeds can bring them to life and bring life to all the eyes that behold them.

03 April 2008

Reflections on Mercy and Anger

"So the people of Ninevah believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them...Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

"But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry...

"Then the LORD said, 'Have you any right to be angry?' "

But Jonah left the city, not answering a word. He knew the answer. Fresh from the belly of a big fish, he had no more right to God's mercy than the people of Nineveh. Yet while receiving it himself, he persisted in putting himself above the others, in wanting them to die.

Is that what I did when I wanted to scream at my friend yesterday?
I'm sorry.

02 April 2008

Defiant Gardens

I have just begun reading a book called Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime by Kenneth Helphand.

"In times of genuine aggression, however, the garden doesn't protect: it is an illusory fortress, offering resistance and respite but not victory." (page 17)

True enough--in wartime, the garden needs protecting--it cannot protect itself or its gardener. Observe:

"So [the Lord God] drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life." Genesis 3:24

In the war against evil in our world, our families, and our selves, gardens are worth protecting. They tangibly remind us that we were created for something better, and that we will once again be restored to a perfect creation.

01 April 2008

A Run into God's Mercy

"But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

"But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load."

Does my disobedience really cost other people, to the tune of their entire cargo?

"But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. So the captain came to him, and said to him, 'What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.' "

Please wake me, my Captain.

"And they said to one another, 'Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.' So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah."

What would it be like to live in a world where society in general expected others to take responsibility for their actions, and own the choice to run away?

"Then they said to him, 'Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?' "

Such dangerous questions. Should I hide?

"So he said to them, 'I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.' "


"Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, 'Why have you done this?' For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them."

Woshiping God carries a responsibility, a steady commitment and courage to do His bidding, at all times and at all places, even when we have run away. My worship is part of my identity, my credentials.

"Then they said to him, 'What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?'--for the sea was growing more tempestuous.

"And he said to them, 'Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me."

"...So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging."

What were those moments like for Jonah, as he flew through the air and hit the water? Was he terrified, or was he comforted, sinking into the water's cradle, at the mercy of the One who created the sea?