31 May 2014

An Anniversary and a Butterfly

First thing this morning, as if in celebration of our four year anniversary, we found a newly hatched female Black Swallowtail butterfly, ready to go out into the world of flowers and flight.

If you had told me four years ago today that I would be in south Texas, kissing the cheeks of the sweet grandmotherly greeters at church, understanding more and more meaning in each sermon in Spanish, growing okras and watermelons and learning to eat prickly pears, I don't know if I would have believed you.

Life takes us unexpected places, doesn't it?

Yet through all the unexpected life places I've been in the last four years (because from starting graduate school to learning a new language, ALL the places I've been since that May 31 in 2010 have been unexpected), I'm more glad than ever to share my life with a man who has the sweetest heart and the truest unfailing integrity.

29 May 2014

Texas Spotted Whiptail

I'd like you to meet one of my new South Texas friends, who I'm quite sure is called a Texas Spotted Whiptail.  This little guy and his buddies scurry around my garden every morning when I go out to visit the plants (i.e., water them, pollinate them, and pull the weeds around them).  While everyone else dives for the shade in the afternoon sun, these fellows stay out soaking it all in.

He's quick on his feet, but sometimes when I startle him (I'm much taller than he is, after all), he slides a little as he scurries across the sidewalk seeking shelter underneath the next blooming bush.

These delightful garden companions don't always get along with each other, though.  Once, two of them were so intent on chasing each other that they didn't even have time to notice me.  When they ran into my flip flop, it was my turn to be startled!

27 May 2014

One Plant Standing Tall: On Perseverance in the Garden

I couldn't begin to tell you how many amaranth varieties and seeds we've started this spring, only to watch them get eaten by some mysterious pest, or simply not grow to their expected height of glory.  

Except this one.  Yes, only one is really standing tall, growing the way it should.  But this one is well above knee high now, and although it isn't budding yet, it's a healthy beauty.  We're loving the maroon tones on the leaves, and its graceful new growth at the tips.

This one lone plant promises to be worth all the starting and re-starting.  Of course we would've loved seeing ten or fifteen plants looking like this, but this one is occupying its space with decided charm, adding its loveliness to the entire garden scene.  

Which reminds me of something my dad told me once:  Never underestimate the influence one person can have.  

So persevere. In excellence, in high moral standards, in doing the right thing, in working hard, even when you feel like you're the only one.  You never know how the graces of your beautiful strong character will bless those who behold your blossoming life.

And if you're the gardeners?  You need perseverance, too, just like the plants do.  Keep feeding that garden soil.  Get as much compost as you can.  The more you feed the soil, the more it will feed the plants.  The healthier your plants, the better they'll be at resisting the pests.  Care for the plants you have, even if not very many seem to be doing as well as you'd like.  Meanwhile, keep planning for the needs of the next crop as well.

Then try again.  Plant another crop of amaranths during that delightful thing we in South Texas call the fall garden season, and watch for an improved showing.  Perhaps in the fall, there will be an abundant new generation of all things amaranth.

25 May 2014

Home-Made Lincoln Logs

The other day after a piano student sibling had spent the lesson time playing with some of my toys, I got to thinking how great a treasure I really have sitting over there in my guest room.  Yep.  Home-made Lincoln Logs.

My dad made them before I can remember, and they were always a household staple.  

Which is why I rescued them from being given away after my parents' latest move, and began carting them around the country myself in that great trunk my dad and I found together at a thrift store.  You just don't give away the Lincoln Logs your dad made.

I asked him the other day why he decided to make his own Lincoln Logs, and he simply said, "The regular ones never had enough pieces, so I just thought it would be nice to have a set with plenty of everything."

That's my family, all right, always having bigger building dreams than the little box of store-bought Lincoln Logs will accommodate.

We do that with food, too.  When we're all in the kitchen making a mountain of a meal, someone inevitably worries there won't be enough food.  Then, as if in defense, one of us will say, "It takes too much to make enough."  Because if everything gets eaten, you don't know if everyone really got enough, of course.

Didn't that saying get handed down from generation to generation in your family?

But back to the Lincoln Logs.  I didn't expect him to tell me he had never finished making the set, and that's why he had thought of giving them away before I rescued them--an unfinished project he wasn't sure he'd get around to finishing after twenty-five years.  The roofing pieces, for example.  

It never once occurred to me the roofing pieces were missing, but if he ever decided to make some, I'd be in full support.

Meanwhile, I'll keep building big dreams and beautiful Lincoln Log cabins, dreaming  well outside your average store-bought box, just like my dad taught me to do.

22 May 2014

Peace at the Door: Living Free from Fear

Opening the door, he stood face to face with a man on the verge of a killing spree.

The captain's bound by law to do it, of course, simply obeying the orders of an irate king.  Yet the young man standing just inside the door, face to face with death--not for the first or last time--calmly, wisely, simply says, "Why?"

Wouldn't you love to be that unruffled by fear, anxiety, stress, trials, bills to pay, illnesses, and deadlines?  

If I were the king's captain, who was gone forth to slay all the wise men of Babylon, I would have been a little surprised.  If I were Arioch, I probably wouldn't be accustomed to being questioned, but especially not politely and calmly when I've just said, "I'm here to kill you."

I might be even more amazed when the young man said, "Oh, wait on that command from your king.  We Hebrews know a God who can solve this."  I'd stand in awe, watching him hurry over to the palace, gain an audience with the king, and after everyone else has failed in offering every excuse and begging for their lives, secure a precious window of time to work on the king's mystery.

The song "Dare to be a Daniel" takes on new and deeper meaning, doesn't it?

I don't know everything that's outside your door right now, about to knock, about to threaten your life.  I do know the same God who was there for Daniel is out there pushing everything else aside to get the first chance to knock on your heart-door, willing to give you the same calm and courage Daniel had when death knocked on his door.

But back to the story.  There's a ton we could say about everything that happens in Daniel 2 (it's world history in 49 verses or less, after all), we'll just stick with one thing for today.

Daniel and his three buddies, unified in their prayers and purpose, saved not only their own lives, but the lives of the other guys who failed the king.  

There were four groups of them:  the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the sorcerers.  Their magic arts were an empty sham, and the king could still have done away with them because they didn't come through for him.  But because of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, their lives also were spared.

Which lends a maddening sting to the story in the next chapter, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship the image of gold.

It's Nebuchadnezzar's attempt to re-predict history to the end of time, setting himself up as the kingdom that will never be destroyed, even though he knows from his very recent dream of the image and its interpretation that other nations will rise after him, all ultimately superseded by God's everlasting kingdom.  

With the image of gold, he's setting himself above the Most High God as if he could make himself live for ever, and it's not the image itself people are commanded to worship after all, but Nebuchadnezzar himself.

Among those gathered together for the image's dedication are a group of Chaldeans, possibly the very ones whose lives were just spared by Daniel's calm courage, his friends' faithful prayer support, and God's blessing of wisdom.

Although they owe their very lives to these Hebrew captives, they are the first to accuse, demanding that the king execute them on the spot.

These Chadleans are beyond ungrateful, unimaginably spiteful.  It doesn't appear from the text that Nebuchadnezzar would have even known about the three Hebrew men who stayed standing, except for the Chaldean tattlers.

Yet there is not one speck of evidence that it ruffled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego even for a moment.  They're so bent on standing true to God even in the midst of a pagan ceremony that they hardly notice their accusers, or stop to remind them who just saved their lives.

Maybe that's what it really means to seek first the kingdom of heaven, to enjoy its peace that passes understanding.

To be so focused on defending God's name in a messed up and perverted world trying desperately to change the timeless truths of God's Word that we wouldn't even notice the threats and jabs of our enemies.

To be so constantly abiding in Christ's purity that our enemies have nothing against us but our faithfulness to heaven's king.

To be utterly convinced of our future hope, so that no arrow of Satan can shake our humble faith that God can save us, knowing that even if He does not (physically, anyway), no reward will entice us to betray our Lord.

Even when death comes knocking at the door.

20 May 2014

Our Black Swallowtail Butterflies: A Timeline of Their Life Cycle

Now that we've released three Black Swallowtail butterflies into the big wide world (and the second graders at school have released more than that), I thought it would be fun to look back over the time they've spent with us, and document the timeline from the egg discover to the first release.

We found the eggs and the first caterpillars on April 21, 2014.  (My post about it:  The Black Swallowtail Dilemma)

Since I read that only one in one hundred butterfly eggs makes it all the way to butterfly adulthood, we rescued the caterpillars from predators, sharing some with second grade and keeping a few protected at home.  We continued to watch their growth.  (My post about it:  Black Swallowtail Caterpillars)

It was more difficult than I expected to mark the transition between instar stages; we simply ended up enjoying watching them gradually change and grow.

By May 3, we had our first chrysalises.  Three were green, three were brown.  In the second grade classroom at school, my husband tells me the colors seemed to be location specific.  That is, all the green ones were on one type of terrain, and all the brown ones were on another.  (My post about it:  A Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Makes a Chrysalis {With Video})

On May 13, our first butterfly hatched!  From the day we found the first caterpillars and eggs, to the day of the first hatch, was three weeks and one day.  I let the beauty go out into the neighborhood on the morning of May 14.  (My post about it:  A Black Swallowtail Emerged)

So would we do it again?  Absolutely!  Even though it did end up ruining my best dill patch ever, the whole process has been a delight to watch.  In fact, we truly are doing this again.  The other day, my husband found the tiniest of caterpillars on a parsley plant out back, and we simply didn't have the heart to save the parsley.  Just one this time, so far, but he's already pretty fun to watch.

We'll try some more parsley and another dill patch come fall.

18 May 2014

The Vine's Real Job

I'm out there working in the garden one morning, carefully searching one vine for female flowers ready to be pollinated, tugging on another vine trying to get it loose from the fence where it shouldn't be growing at all.  One vine gets cheered on, tended carefully; the other ripped to shreds.  And it hits me.

If you're a vine, your job is to take over the world.

You might be a good vine, or you might be a bad vine, but either way, garden dominance is your one and only goal.  You want lots of flowers, lots of fruits, lots of seeds.  It's a big world, and you try to grow over it as fast as you can.

Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit...I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."  (John 15:1-3, 5)

So we are part of a vine, and we have a job to do, just like the watermelon vine in my garden.  Let's be sure we're attached to the true vine, and simply delight in the fast, steady growth that keeps pushing toward every unoccupied part of this world-garden we call our temporary home.  There are people who need the nourishing fruit only the true Vine can provide them.

And let's get the job done soon, so we can go to our real home, the city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

15 May 2014

Food, Laws, and Captives in Control

One of the reasons I love the book of Daniel is that it is such a profound mixture of what I believe are the two important things to look for when we study the Bible.  One without the other would make either lose its power.

First, Daniel reveals truth in the large sense, theological truth, you might say.  In one little book, we get God's plan for sacred history from Daniel's days in college all the way down to the second coming in astonishing detail.  Daniel's prophecies constantly point us toward that end goal God has been striving toward since the very first sin:  the complete restoration of His good and pleasant kingdom on earth.

And the second one?  Daniel's stories overflow with practical, godly examples and personal advice on how I can be a better Christian and have vibrant faith no matter what I'm facing.  Right now, today.  Which, step by step, day by day, keeps me striving right along with God Himself for His end goal.  It's an awesome thing to be part of, no?

The book opens with one of the shortest war stories I've ever read:  the king of Babylon comes against the king of Jerusalem, wins because God lets him, and takes captive some of God's people and some holy things out of God's temple.  Off to Babylon they go.

Daniel and his friends perhaps stood in long lines as they got settled into their new home.  College orientations can be that way.  But theirs was different.  They're attending college in a new country.  They'll be learning a new language.  For a lot of students today, that would be the biggest of dreams come true.

But for these guys?  The word "captive" doesn't score high on anybody's list top fifteen hundred career goals.  Yet it's a word that defines them for years to come, the rest of their lives, in fact, through multiple kings and governments.   

Those captives of Judah...

They didn't choose the label, but it was there and it was true nonetheless.  They were captives, and there wasn't anything they could do about it.

Nothing, that is, unless they could be taken captive by Someone Else.

That first problem came up almost immediately:  food.  The king provided generously for their nourishment, but eating the food on his table broke God's laws.  Daniel and his friends made no excuses, but they did make a brash request.  The prince of the eunuchs denied the request on the grounds that granting it would cost his life.

Pretend for a second you haven't heard this story a million times.  Think for a moment about what Daniel could have said:

We'd hate to put your life in danger.  We're sorry we even brought this up.
We can make do with what's in front of us.  We'd hate to be the cause of your death.
We promise we won't tell anyone.  The king will never know.

Instead, Daniel simply negotiated further--not the typical behavior of a captive!  He's bold, he's calm, he's taking the reigns from his captors and gaining the upper hand.

Test us for ten days.  We'll be healthier at the end, and it will show everyone, including the king if he should want to know, that God's law and His ways are best.

His reply sets them up to be a public witness no matter how far and wide the story might travel.  They have no secrets to keep, no lies to tell, and no hint of fear that keeping God's law will cause another person's harm or death.

Because God's laws were designed to protect and enrich life, not destroy it, designed for everybody everywhere, nor just one people group in one small Middle Eastern country.

Of course, we do know how the story turns out, how the young men are healthier after just ten days than all the other students, likely including other Hebrew captives whose health visibly deteriorated while they ate the king's food and drank his wine during the ten days of Daniel's test.  We know how at the end of their college course, they came out far ahead of not only their own class but also all the other wise men in the kingdom.

Talk about a captivity turned around in their favor.  You know why?

Their bonds to God directed every choice they made.  They didn't buck Nebuchadnezzar's system just to see if they could, or to prove their independence, or merely to test the limits of their prisoner of war status.

They rebelled against only those things that would force them to break God's law, and in claiming their moral freedom trusted themselves entirely to His protection.  They obeyed by faith and thereby obtained His promised blessings. They didn't break one command in order to keep another.  For them, it was all or nothing.

Their story illustrates how far-reaching and binding God's law really is through all time, and sets it on a high level of honor.

That's true even if we might happen to find ourselves in situations that feel completely out of control, whether in a literal prison or whether it's simply a job or a boss that introduces "little" compromises.

And their story injects courage straight into my veins, right now, today.

Like them, I don't have to feel captive to circumstances, backed into a corner where there's no way out but to break God's law or sacrifice my principles.  It's so easy to feel that way, though, isn't it?  We worry about what people think, whether we'll be able to find and keep a job, whether someone else will get hurt if we take the stand we know we know we need to take.

Daniel and his friends didn't worry about those things.  I suppose you could say they had nothing left to lose, except their lives (and we'll get to those stories soon!).  Yet they trusted.  They obeyed.  And eventually they stood in the king's court, their influence extending over the largest kingdom of the earth.

I don't believe for a second they did any of that in their own strength or in their own wisdom, and I don't have to either.  They simply chose to be faithful, and the Bible says "...God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom..." (See Daniel 1:17).

The same One who provided for all their needs promised to provide for all yours, too.  Let's trust Him more today.  

Shall we even get brave and ask Him to let us know if there's an area of our lives that isn't matching up with His ways of doing things?  Even if we end up needing to make some changes in our lives, on the other side of those changes God only has more amazing things for us to be, do, and enjoy--for His glory.

13 May 2014

A Black Swallowtail Emerged

I had no idea.  I spent the day catching up on (some of the) dishes, working on ScriptureTyper memory verses, and prepping the garden for a predicted two to four inches of rain.  The rains haven't come down so much that the floods started coming up, though, so it has been a pretty quiet day, severe weather warnings notwithstanding.  I was thinking the day had been progressing all along without fanfare.

EXCEPT.  One thing.

When my husband came home?  He took a look at the chrysalises, and found this beauty of a black male swallowtail already out in the world.

See the green chrysalis below him on the stick?  It shouldn't be long before we have five more of these gorgeous creatures.

I'm not one to buy clothes that only have the design going half way around them--a waist band only on the front, a pattern on one half of the sweater but not on the back, that kind of thing.  I guess that makes me enjoy that this guy has patterns on both sides of his wings all the more.

See how wide his wing span is?  Just about four inches--the wings in this photo are not quite open all the way.  It's just one of the most amazing things to see a chrysalis in its compact smallness, and imagine that only hours before this smooth-winged, large creature was somehow cramped up inside of it, and still came out so perfectly.

What a great thing to happen on a Tuesday, wouldn't you say?

11 May 2014

Salt of the Earth

We gather up the necessities:  sun hats, sun screen, water (yes, lots of water), sunglasses, car keys, mission story book.  

The sun beats down hot, but we know we need to get out in nature whether it's 95 out or not, so we simply prepare as best we can and give ourselves permission to come home again even if we get hot sooner than we'd like.  Since the drive away from the city noises takes the better part of an hour, we've fallen into the routine of using the time to read stories of faith.  

This trip?  We're reading a story from Showers of Grasshoppers about African cotton farmers who might lose everything if they stay true to their faith.  I make it a habit to come to suspenseful ends of chapters and close the book as if I am going to stop reading, because every time I do my husband throws the most adorable fit and begs me to keep going. 

We wander out past the outhouses that used to be infested with black widow spiders, down the path lined with blooming cacti, past the bird lookout station, out onto the salt.  It hasn't rained in a few weeks, and the salt is at its most impressive yet--large square crystals melded together like a sheet of chunky ice.

I think of those people in the book, and even though I don't know the end of the story yet because we really did have to stop reading when we arrived at the dusty parking lot, I feel sure some of those people will risk everything to honor God's commandments, claiming His promises.

These faithful ones must be who Jesus meant when He said "Ye are the salt of the earth."  

Out here on the salt flats, I think differently about what that means than I ever have before.  This salt isn't just a flavor bringing out the best in the food on my plate.  It's an entity that grows, filling in holes and gaps in the sand, changing what life forms survive in its presence and what life forms don't.  Even when the water rises, the salt doesn't wash away.  It simply changes the character of the water.

As our hour and twenty minutes in nature (the length of time it takes to get too hot to be out in it any longer) washes away the stress of a week, I pray I will become like this salt.  Always fully present, so constant in character that no matter what floods or droughts inundate my life, my surroundings will indeed be tangibly changed by the strength of my faith.

07 May 2014

Celebrating the Garden Bounties

It's so sweet to see each new Zinnia bloom, and now even the giants are coming out.  My husband loves how long they stay blooming, and we're both in favor of bright color spots around the yard.  

I think the packets we bought were supposed to be mixed colors; thus far, they've all been pink.  Not that I mind.  We just haven't seen much of the "mix" of colors.  Then again, we haven't planted tons, and we have some more smaller ones coming up, so we'll continue the adventure and see what colors come next.

And even though I showed you our tomato trials, I'm learning in life and in the garden to not only pour energy into the things that are in crisis, but also to draw energy and delight from the things that are working right.  

So this little melon?  It grows leaps and bounds every day.  The thought hadn't crossed our minds to grow melons at all, until Baker Creek sent us a free gift packet of Ananas D'Amerique A Chai Verte Melon seeds.  It has rave reviews, and we can hardly wait until it's ripe!

The white sheet underneath them is theoretically there to shield them from potential heat of the cement they're growing over, and I think it has helped.  We planted the melons in a narrow bed near a fence, with our back parking area bordering the other side of the bed.  I've seen it done that way before, where the vines of the plants just sprawl out over everything.  I may not be a proponent of a fully raw diet, but I think cooked melons would be pretty terrible, so we're glad the sheet helps keep them cool.

And see our baby watermelon???  {delighted squeal}  When I look at it in the mornings, it's bigger than the night before.  When I look at it in the evenings, it's bigger than it was in the morning.  I guess it has to grow fast, if it's going to get to the advertised thirty pounds or more.

Even though it has been super hot here (we've already had several days above 100F), the basil plants are growing fabulously.  This is our largest harvest yet, and several of the plants are just barely big enough to start pruning.  Two generations of basil are out there right now, and I'm considering starting seeds for a third generation.  There's just nothing quite so yummy as fresh pesto right from your own back yard, and I wouldn't mind having so much basil that I would need to freeze the extra pesto, or dry the extra leaves.

05 May 2014

A Black Swallowtail Catterpillar Makes a Chrysalis {With Video}

We watch the little caterpillars eat whole leaves from the dill and parsley we feed them (we run out in the garden, so we buy more organic parsley from the grocery store).  They get fat quickly, and we can't seem to tire of of the way they search, find, and nibble the leaves, and repeat.  

I admit, I'm especially taken with their stumpy feet that hold on to anything while they bend and twist around with half their bodies or more looking for the next leafy victim.

Right before they make a chrysalis, the Black Swallowtail caterpillars are at their fattest yet, but they have to empty their digestive tract.  When they do so, they shrink a bit, and begin to wander.

Will this stick be the right hanging place?  Or will they search for another?  They wander to the very limit, and sometimes gravity carries them right back down to the bottom when they don't hold tightly enough to the last end of a branch.

They twist and turn, inspecting each potential chrysalis site with care.  Once satisfied (or at least more contained than they are when they try to roam all over creation), they settle on a place on the underside of a stick, attach with a string, and wait.  Within a day or so, without much warning, they make the chrysalis.  Which takes ten minutes or less, believe it or not.

Now, it's not much that will entice me to stay up late.  Not New Year's, not 4th of July fireworks (usually, anyway).  But that last look at the caterpillars, and finding one that just might be wiggly enough to make a chrysallis soon?  

That will absolutely keep me up until 1:00 a.m., especially when the second one starts the process right after the first one finishes.  And I will be unbelievably tired the next day (I don't sleep in well), but it will have been worth it all, just to have seen the miracle of a chrysalis in the making.

Due to technical difficulties, today's video will be posted on Google+ rather than directly in this blog post, and you can view it here.  It's about three minutes long, and I hope you enjoy watching this miracle as much as I did!  :)

02 May 2014

The Book of Daniel

Before I started memorizing the book of Daniel, I tended to think of all the sections separately, some unrelated miraculous stories put together to give context to a book full of amazing prophecies.

But now?  It seems like every time those words make the paths through my brain a little deeper, I notice a new connecting thread, a new significance in what I used to think were the smallest details, added only for interest's sake.  

Each time, I come away with a renewed awe for the depth and cohesiveness of the Word of God.

That's why for weeks I've had these threads running through my mind, wanting to share them here, but realizing there would be way too much to say for one post.

This month, then, you can expect some thoughts on Daniel, maybe once a week, maybe more often.  And just to whet your appetite?  I'll start with just a small detail that gets a passing notice in Daniel chapter one.

The book opens with the tiniest of battle descriptions:  Nebuchadnezzar comes against Jerusalem, wins the battle by gift of God, and takes treasures from the house of the true God and stores them in the house of a false god.

That's where they sit for years, perhaps decades, without mention.  But the holy vessels that belonged in the house and service of God were brought out for pagan worship instead.  

And you know what?  God doesn't stand for such foolishness, especially when the king who commanded it knew better than to strut his stuff in the face of the Almighty God (see Daniel's words to king Belshazzar at the end of Daniel chapter 5 if you want an example of a fearless and clear rebuke that simultaneously condemns the rebellious king and reminds him of God's matchless care for his very breath).

Belshazzar and his kingdom are conquered that night, but if we pay careful attention to the Bible, we still get to find out what happens to God's holy vessels.

In Ezra chapter 1, we learn that Cyrus king of Persia restores every vessel (5400 in number) to God's people, to be returned to their original place.  No more will they be housed with the vessels of pagan worship.  They once again occupy the glory of their God-given purpose.

If you're like me, though, sometimes you wonder why these objects--their number, their type, their history--get such detailed attention in God's Word.

Well, you know how the sanctuary and later the temple service were to be object lessons of Jesus' sacrifice for His lost world, and how Peter talks about Jesus being the living cornerstone of the spiritual temple, or the church?  You can read about that in 1 Peter 2.  

The other amazing thing in that same chapter is how we also get built into God's house, set apart for holy service to Him.

And if God can take the golden and silver vessels, preserving them not only through generations of service in His house, but also years and years of captivity in a pagan land, He can preserve us--you, me, anyone--and bring us back home to Himself even if and after we've been carried away captive in sin.

Maybe you're there right now, feeling bound in the depths of some dark place, surrounded by things you wish you'd never heard of.  Jesus, the Light of the world, can shine for you even there, lighting your path back home.  He can even work on hearts of people who don't truly know and serve him (like Cyrus) to help you along in your journey back to Him.

What's important now is that you simply accept His call.  Don't spend one moment longer in that darkness of life without Christ.  Now is your day of salvation, and God still has a work for you to do in His great house.