Friday, July 30, 2010

The Week I Didn't Get Run Over By Cows

My mom and dad decided to take off for vacation last week and left me in charge of the farm.  Grin.

As my sis said, I got to play farmer while they were gone, and I admit, I liked it.  (Especially since there wasn't anything really difficult to do.)  Every day began with starting up my dad's big green pick-up truck in the silence of the morning. I'd roll the window down and drive into the sun to feed "the girls," as Dad calls them.

My dad gave up livestock many years ago, but he still has to have a few animals around.  He just can't help it.  So right now, he has four beautiful young black cows that come once a day from the pasture for breakfast. 

The routine is simple.  Drive the trunk, honk the horn, fill the bucket, unlatch the gate, and pour the feed in the trough.  Dad calls to the girls before he enters their area (and actually gets close to them).

I decided to switch things up.  My routine went something like this:

Days 1 and 2:  I'd sneak in as quietly as the truck allowed, fill the bucket and then honk the horn -- to give me a little more time before their eight hundred pound bodies were hurling toward the feed bucket.  Then, I'd simply smile and say, "Good morning, Girls," and those huge young things would stop short so fast, the dust would whirl.  Power in the word.  Dad swears they're his most docile cows ever, but I wasn't taking any chances. I have three children at home, you know.

Day 3:  The cows are waiting for me at the gate, blocking my way to the feed trough.  Fiddlesticks.  I speak to them, hoping that my voice will spook them enough to clear the way, but apparently my power is gone.  I gather up my courage to get in amongst them, but frankly, I don't have much.  So I climb the fence by the trough instead.  The cows get fed; I don't get run over.  We're all happy.

Day 4:  I sigh with relief that the girls aren't waiting for me and prepare the bucket of feed.  I struggle to get the bag of feed open and to lift the hefty bag without spilling it, but thankfully not all my muscle is gone, and I get the job done.  I carry the bucket, honk the horn, call them to breakfast, pour the feed and wait.  And wait . . . and wait. 

I've lost the cows.  I look all over, listening carefully, driving up and down the road and trying not to panic.  I return to the barn and peer down the pasture as far as I can see.  No sign of them anywhere.  I have no cell phone with me, and I'm wearing flip-flops (not practical pasture-walking wear).  So, I race home to get into farmer gear and make sure Baby Girl is still sleeping.  I grab my cell phone, pull on sturdy shoes and rush back to the barn. 

Wouldn't you know it, while I was gone, the girls decided to appear.  My heart rate returns to normal, and I give them a scolding.  Just so they know exactly what they did to me by showing up late.

Day 5:  The girls are used to me now.  I've given them names:  Lucy, Ethyl, Penny (a Pound) and Chicken. 

Lucy and Ethyl are quite the pair.  They just make me smile and they always seem to come together.  There's safety -- and good times -- in numbers.

Penny (a Pound) takes her food seriously.  She hardly ever gave me a glance once that feed was poured and was first to the feed trough.  She's doing her job to make a fine steak.  (Notice the bored stare as she impatiently waits for her food.)

And then there's Chicken.  At first, she refused to eat if I was near.  Skittish.  Even when I was on the other side of the fence, she'd hang way back -- missing out on her meal.

Eventually, she'd decide to get her food before Penny ate it all, but she'd keep a wary eye on me.  She must have been afraid I'd eat her or something.  Ahem. 

As I watched them feast the last day, I realized I'd miss them and this routine.  But I admit I'm a teeny bit glad that I don't have to worry anymore about getting run over every morning.

And I'd hate to get any more attached to them.  If I did, I'm not sure I could eat that steak.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Filled with Joy and Laughter

"Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
'The LORD has done great things for them.'
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy."
                                                                     Psalm 126:2-3

A Christ-honoring mouth filled with laughter and joy brings blessing to the world and praise to the Lord.  Joy is a witness to the character and the generosity of our God and His work in our lives and our hearts.

May your heart leap for joy today as you give thanks to Him!  (Psalm 29:7)
Bless others.  Bring Praise.

For more Word-Filled inspiration, visit Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Calendar of Forever

I look at the calendar, and I panic.

I picture myself with my hands in the air, trying to capture the days as they fly swiftly by.  As I pull my hands down and open them, I see that they are empty.  How can this be?  How is it that the days which once stretched before me into years have become distant memories?  And the memories have faded until only a few remain stuck in some corner of my mind to keep and replay and treasure and cling to . . . because it's all I have left of that time.  And yet, I can barely recall it. 

I hardly remember him like this:

My first baby is going to school, and my cheeks are wet.  He's ten, not five.  He's going to fifth grade, not kindergarten. . . and yet the hurt and the heartache, I imagine, are no different.  I'm not ready to let go.

And so I read the journal I've written for him over the years, and I come to July 8, 2003.  He's three and a half years old.  I have written, "A day after talking about Jesus walking on the water, you said, 'I can't walk on water, Mommy.  Jesus will just have to carry me.'"  And I cry for the little boy heart that has always been for Jesus, that has always led me to Him because I can't keep him little forever.

But we think it's time.  And still I cling, thinking that it's in my control . . . thinking that by holding him here, I'm keeping things the same and forbidding tomorrow to come.  But I'm not.  I'm only pretending.  And he has his own paths to walk, his own sky to soar . . . his own water to walk with Jesus.

So, I breathe deep.  I pray.  And I count the blessings of yesterday and the promise of Eternity, where I never have to let go forever. 

And as I count, Jesus will just have to carry me.

"When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you."
~Isaiah 43:2

holy experience

Counting gifts #124 to 149:

I'm not too heavy for Jesus

He carries my babies too

morning talks with The Thinker

memories preserved in journals

encouragement from friends and family

a sunset over the lake


sand castles

the white of the gull's wing


crashing waves

a time to relax

good books

bike rides

cloud watching in the backyard with all three kids

Uno with my boys

games of Blokus with my boys, and I finally win!

bird song

an impromptu visit with my brother and sister

a new aunt reading books to Baby Girl

squirt gun fights with my nephews

there's still some summer left

awareness that these really are the best days


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Time to Embrace (and Other Books to Read)

Summer is the time for reading, and I was ready with a stack of books to devour during my retreat.  On the top was a book I received as a complementary copy (in exchange for a free review) through BookSneeze called A Time to Embrace by Karen Kingsbury.  I enjoy this author quite a bit, and this story did not disappoint me.  It is the sequel to A Time to Dance, which I read sometime last year, and I would recommend reading both.  You would appreciate the sequel more if you do (but it's not necessary). 

A Time to Embrace deals with the tragedy and trials that can assault a marriage.  John and Abby have been married for more than twenty years and are enjoying a newness in their relationship after a long dry spell.  While there are struggles in John's job, they are simply drawing closer together and appreciating the gift of marriage.  The real test comes when he is critically injured in a car accident. The dialogue is good, the plot is decent and the celebration of marriage is terrific.  It's good vacation reading.

Also over my blogging break, I read a variety of other books that you might wish to check out:

Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World by Tom Davis -- This is a story set in Africa based on real people that will touch your heart and challenge you to act as you are confronted with the life of a young girl fighting for survival in her AIDS-ravaged country.  Right now, I can't get enough of Africa.

June Bug by Chris Fabry -- A little girl travelling with her father in an old RV sees a picture of herself on a missing child poster in Walmart.  The mystery unfolds in a story beautifully told and touching.

The Promise of Heaven: Reflections on Our Eternal Home by Randy Alcorn -- A condensed version of his lengthy (and worthwhile) book Heaven, this version has the added value of beautiful photography by John MacMurray.  I appreciate it for its biblically-based answers for questions, such as

     What can we know about heaven?
     What happens when we die?
     Will we have the same identities as now?
     What will we do in heaven?

I think adults and older children would enjoy this book.

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore -- This true account of a homeless black man, a white wealthy art dealer and the woman who brought them together will touch your heart and challenge your thinking.  Warning:  I cried buckets. 
A friend recommended this book to me for our women's book club, and I agreed it was a terrific choice.  We meet in a few weeks to discuss it, and I can't wait.

Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish -- Perhaps my favorite book of this summer, the story began slowly, but once it hooked me, I couldn't let go.  The characters are believable, the emotion is raw, the story beautifully woven.  Benjamin, a police officer who had served in Afghanistan, is married to Abbi, a vegetarian peace-loving, war-protesting artist.  Their marriage is on the rocks when he discovers an abandoned newborn in need of fostering.  As they care for the baby, places in their hearts begin to heal.  Benjamin continues to investigate and search for the parents of the baby, which allows for the subplot about Matthew, a deaf genius with a beautiful heart.  Marriage, parenting, church relationships, forgiveness . . . all of these things are explored in this compelling read.

Now, there's still some summer left.  Get busy reading!

And if you've read something fabulous lately, please share! 
Or tell me, what's your favorite book?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blessed in the Wait

Sunsets.  One of my favorite things in this world, and I wanted to capture the moment to keep as the sun set over Lake Michigan.

So my husband and I made the trek up the dune by the lighthouse to pick a spot to watch the sun set, but as we crested the hill I noticed something that I couldn't see back at the house:  clouds met the water.  I wouldn't see the sun sink. 

I sat down anyway and hoped for the best.  We watched the clouds change, the sun tipping them with gold.  I appreciated the time with my husband . . . the stillness, except for the whispers of other viewers and the occasional giggle of a child as he chased a bird.  And in those were community.

But I was a bit disappointed as well.  I had hoped for spectacular colors and the moment when the sun seems to hang one last hello before its quick descent into the lake, as if it's too heavy to stay one more moment and the pull to see another part of the world too strong to linger longer.

So I told hubby we could leave.  And it was okay. 

We climbed back up and over the dune to the car.  As I slipped on my sandals, I glance back over my shoulder to see a winking of light.  Oh!  The lighthouse!

I snapped some shots as I watched the blinking of its message of light every few seconds.  I asked for another moment or two to watch, and as we did, the sky before us began to change.  I ran back up the hill to a breathtaking view. 

The sun had gone and left a gift.  A gift I almost missed because of my expectations and impatience

And immediately, I heard the whisper, "Wait."  And I was reminded:

"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." ~ Psalm 130:5

"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"  ~ Isaiah 30:18

"I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" ~ Lamentations 3:24

And in the waiting come the gifts.  Gifts of Himself, of beauty. . . and the gift of knowing that in that moment in time He was reaching out and teaching and loving even me.


For more Word-filled inspiration, visit Internet Cafe Devotions.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Love Packaged in a Day for Eternity

The flower girl was grumpy.

The ring bearer ran down the aisle with his paci in his mouth.

The temperature was over 90 degrees inside and outside the church.

Music played to the whirring of fans.

Humidity hung her curtains.

But the bride glowed and jewels dripped from her ears, and the sparkle in her eye mirrored the sparkles around her neck and wrist.

And the groom's face spoke volumes.

It was life packaged in a day, wrapped in joy and tied with tears.  Sweet and sorrow meeting in a moment.  Smiles and tears linking arms.

Prayers were spoken, blessings poured from lips that love.  Vows and rings exchanged. 
There was a moment when the unity candles were lit: 
The groom's was crooked. 
The bride corrected it. 
And smiles 'round the church at the symbolism from those who have partnered in this marriage dance . . . the stumbles, the forgiveness, the mistakes, the corrections.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

And it was packaged with tears and sealed with Christ's blood for eternity.

holy experience

Gifts 111-124:

my brother

his bride

new love

wedding cake and champagne

dressing up

reasons to smile

a husband to carry me onto the dance floor and beyond


dancing 'til the feet ache

foot massages

Baby Girl in satin

a beautiful garden of flowers

a cool breeze

a day to remember

families joined together


Monday, July 12, 2010

A Grand Entrance

Did you ever dream of making a grand entrance?  You know, the Scarlett O'Hara type with the big ball gown down a sweeping staircase with all eyes on you?  I think it's a common little girl dream that hangs around even in big girls' heads.  That idea of holding the attention of all those watching as you are looking your most beautiful and put-together.

Well, this isn't one of those entrances.  This is a quiet, backdoor visit.  The comfortable kind between friends wearing pony tails and cut-off shorts because I just can't make the effort to put on the makeup and best dress -- and I know I don't have to because we like each other.  I'm here to tell you of my indecision and my confession. 

When I stepped away from my computer a couple of weeks ago, I felt relief.  No more checking emails to see if anyone had a thought to share that I needed to respond to.  No more expectations of reading other blogs and leaving my thoughts with them.  No more pondering and designing in my head how to share something worthwhile with everyone . . . and with excellence, to boot. 

For almost three weeks now, I've been swimming in writer's laziness.  And I can't decide if I want to stop.

I've been journaling for years and not sharing it except on occasion.  I've mentioned that before.  There's no pressure that way to craft or to proofread or to filter thoughts in an organized fashion.  And there's no pressure to keep a timetable so that a reader knows when to expect it.  I have a greater respect for journalists now. 

What I've learned about blogging:  be regular in your writing, share quality content over quantity, connect with your readers.  All good advice.  But it's also tiring at times.  And there is the meat of my confession.  My retreat has shown me just how time-consuming and tiring my journaling in this format has been.  And so this is me in my indecision:  Do I continue or not?  I question it because I do appreciate the accountability to write better.  I confess I am also slightly addicted to the feedback you are gracious to give.  But most of all, I've discovered some really great people that I will likely never meet but enjoy a connection with.  People I hope to sit with someday on the other side and talk with face-to-face.  You people.

I would appreciate any prayers and thoughts you wish to send my way as I try to decide how to handle this.

Thanks, my friends.

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