Friday, September 30, 2011

Good Night, Summer

Wasn't it yesterday that we were digging in the dirt, preparing our small patch of ground for planting?

How did the summer slip away? The harvest this year could have been bountiful if I'd been here to enjoy it.

Peas and beans, cucumbers and cilantro all got away from me, grown and gone to seed before I could pick them all. Grapes fell victim to our resident thieves, a renegade band of squirrels who take no prisoners and spread destruction wherever they go.

In protest to the late onset of summer, our raspberries are only now putting out fruit, at the same time as our pumpkin crop of 2 whole pumpkins has turned bright orange.

The potatoes are dug, the tomatoes sliced and eaten. A few red specks of cherry tomato dot the garden now, but they'll soon be gone too, burst between eager teeth.

Good night, summer. Sleep well and waken the earth again soon.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Her Heart's Desire

Mom's been enrolled with hospice for nearly a week now. While the learning curve is steep and the whole reason for hospice frankly stinks, we've heard one thing loud and clear--

Whatever Mom wants, she gets.

Ice cream for dinner? You got it.

Sunday night gospel singing? How many people can we cram in the living room?

Canasta? Massage? New paint in the kitchen? Done, done and done.

We've done our best, with the help of the amazing nurse Cathey, to quell the nausea and squash the pain. The past couple of days have been good ones. Mom was even able to get out for church and lunch today.

As I look at all the small and silly ways we're trying to spoil Mom, I know she's already received everything her heart truly desires.

A husband who adores her.

Children who follow the Lord.

Friends who walk with her in faith.

The promise of tear-free, pain-free, trouble-free eternity.

A God who has never forsaken her.

So many songs tonight spoke of heaven, so much hope for a bright and wonderful future.

Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."

She has.

And he did.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Once Upon a Spider's Web

Two elephants went out to play
on a spider's web one day.
They had such enormous fun
they called for another elephant to come.
Elephants are not supposed to play on spider's webs. No matter how much fun they have, they ruin the perfect geometry and they get their toes all sticky.

I'm learning a lot about the delicate beauty of life these days, and also about how what looks like destruction is nothing of the sort.

I captured this picture yesterday on the first foggy morning of autumn. The dew did a number on the spider's web, but it is still beautiful, maybe even more so than before.

Strength made perfect in weakness.

God's glory being revealed through our flaws.

Sometimes our imperfections make us closer to the best we were always intended to become.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


His arms are covered with tattoos, and probably the rest of his body too, judging from the body art that peeks out from under his black t-shirt. He sports a ring in his nose, the kind that pierces through the lower septum and sticks out both nostrils. He's already lost all sense of professionalism, and no wonder. After all, his shop will close in 2 days and he'll be jobless anyway.

I set my books on the counter, nothing I'm too excited about, but worth purchasing at 80% off--a book on animism in Africa, a retelling of old testament stories, an exercise journal (already relegated the the second tier behind the books I actually use), and a memoir about a religious woman who tries not to believe in God.

The title caught my attention: Breaking Up With God. It speaks to me of what so many have done, turned their backs on their creator and refused to take his calls. I want to understand what drives people to seek a different life. I want to know how to tell them God still loves them even when they don't feel it.

The cashier slides one book after another across the bar code reader. I don't even notice him reading the titles I've selected. I don't expect him to care.

"Are you into this kind of literature?"

His voice startles me. I didn't think he was paying any attention to me.

"Which one?" I strain to see which title caught his eye.

It's the one about leaving God, of course.

"I don't know. I haven't read it yet." A Homer Simpson Doh! hits the inside of my skull. What a dumb thing to say.

The cashier is animated now. He's looking around for something, A pen, a scrap of paper.

"Here are some other books you might like to read." His eyes are bright, his voice eager. He slides the paper across to me. "Read them."

I don't know what to say. You've got it all wrong. That's not who I am.

The titles he's selected are non-fiction, instruction manuals for how to abandon God. I don't want them, but I stuff them in my wallet.

I stammer for an answer. What makes you so happy to teach people how to live apart from God? What happened in your life to make you so evangelistic? I don't say anything. He's already turned his attention to the next customer.

An opportunity lost, a moment in time when I could have spoken a word of truth, a word of grace, and instead I stand dumbfounded and let the broken preach to me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Teen Boy's Mite

I love to see a biblical truth come to life.

Last weekend I was out at Faith Quest, an amazing youth weekend that our church helps sponsor each Labor Day to give our kids a strong kick start to the year.

Somehow I drew the least important, least spiritual job of the whole retreat.

Canteen. That's right. In the midst of spiritual renewal and refocus, I sell mildly addictive stimulants (this Mountain Dew) and sugary snacks.

On Sunday each year, the Faith Quest directors choose a project for the kids to help with. In the past, they've given to buy boats for fishermen in Africa, to do outreach to unchurched teens, to support future Faith Quests.

This year, the money went to Ryan Woods, a young church planter who has had a dramatic and miraculous journey through spinal cancer over the past 4 months.

Just before the collection, one of the teens came by the canteen (closed) and begged to buy a Mountain Dew.

"Sorry," I said. "Come back later. Or better yet, give your money to the collection."

"I will NOT give money at the collection," he said.

Really? Maybe he just needed more encouragement. My "boss lady" pitched in. "You should really give at the collection."

"I'm NOT giving," the young man said.

"Just 75 cents?"

"No. I'm not giving."

We closed the door on him and shrugged our shoulders over the fact that he would be so outspoken about not wanting to sacrifice a Mountain Dew for the sake of a good cause (of course, he didn't know what the cause was yet).

Ryan and Jessica had a chance to tell the story of their journey. A year ago, Ryan was the keynote speaker, telling the kids to stand firm as warriors. This year he sits, weaker and more tired but happy to be alive, and tells the kid that the battle is harder than he ever imagined, how this year he's learned that hope doesn't come only in healing, but in trusting God to know what's best, even when it hurts.

I didn't mean to look, but it warmed my heart to see a certain young man, the same one who had refused to give 75 cents, stuff a handful of bills in the collection bucket.

"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, "Son, go and work today in the vineyard."

"I will not," he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, "I will, sir," but he did not go.

"Which of the two did what his father wanted?"

"The first," they answered.

Friday, September 02, 2011

A Little Nudge

After 11 years of homeschooling, we are one week from dipping our toes in the waters of school. Well, actually, the older kids will be plunging in head first on the 26th when they start classes at our local community college. For them, it's sink or swim.

As they go off to classes each day, we realize that our younger one, a social bug, needs to be surrounded by more than just Mom. So...she will be attended an parent partner program through our local school district 2 days a week. We did our research, we did our praying, and (for my part) lots and lots of crying, and made the best decision we could based on this child at this stage of our lives.

So why do I still feel so panicked? Surely at some point I have to trust that my child can survive and thrive outside our home. After all, that's been the goal all along. It's funny, the last time I felt this much anxiety over the kids' education was when the youngun' was a babe in arms and the older 2 were starting 1st grade. They were crying every day over the fact that they had to learn to add. I was unsure I could stand to spend 18 years across the table from my kids.

Where did all those days go? First of all, we shoved the table out of the way and snuggled up together on the couch, or the chair, or the floor. We made the outdoors our school and drew from as many field trips as we could. We had hard days, sure, but we had a ball and learned a lot along the way.

Fly, little birdies,but be sure to come back to the nest to roost. I'm not ready to shove you all the way out yet.