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Archive for May, 2010

Sunday’s Gift

Tomorrow is Sunday, and I am looking forward with great eagerness and anticipation to one of the great loves of my life at our church!  Yes, I love the worship with all my heart, and I love the fellowship of the body of Christ, but that is not what I am referring to.

Another lady and I have been co-teaching the nursery Sunday School class at our church.  These children are aged from two years to four years, and they teach me new things constantly!  What precious, precious little hearts!

At our church these children start in our Sunday School class as soon as they turn two years old, which is a huge blessing instead of waiting until the new Sunday School year starts in September and being overwhelmed with tots that don’t know how to sit and learn.  This way, they enter one by one and the newest child can get the undivided attention that they need for a week or two until they are soon sitting there with all the other ‘big’ kids and doing their lessons.  It’s amazing how quickly they catch on!

When it’s my turn to teach and I’m sitting in front of that semi-circle of precious faces looking at me and hanging on my every word, my heart is stilled with the awesome responsibility that is in my hands.  And then, when we review the catechism questions and they repeat it so quickly, I am amazed at how quickly these little ones pick up what we tell them and innocently accept it as Gospel Truth.  It makes me very, VERY careful to never use an illustration that might confuse them.  It really keeps me on my toes!  And it keeps me thankful that we have this opportunity to teach them the Truth.

One little girl in particular is very well trained at home also.  Every new catechism truth that is taught in Sunday School, she already knows!  And when the question is asked, she quickly says the answer—even before we tell it.  And her little eyes sparkle and glow every time I say, “That’s absolutely correct, Lydia!”

Oh, how I love every one of these children.  And now, as we enter the summer quarter I am trying to remind myself that Holly and Laney and all of the 4-year-olds will only be in our class for three more months and then they will move on.  Can I bear to let them go?  Well, honestly it hurts to even think of it, but I must!  As I watched my own children grow up and leave the nest, no matter how much it hurts, it must happen.  And I must teach myself all over again to be happy as I watch them grow and learn.  And mostly, I can be happy that God shared them with me for such a brief moment.  Now there’s the gift!!!

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For some reason lately I’ve been thinking a lot about an essay I wrote several years ago when we lived out in Indiana on our 9-acre plot.  Sometimes I feel like such an insignificant person that I wonder if my life truly will ever make a difference in this old world.  But I have to remember that all things have value–a lesson God taught me way back then.  Here’s the piece:

Today I found a diamond in my garden.  I was actually in the laundry room looking out on the gardens freshly washed from a summer rain when I saw the sparkle.  I stood there looking at it and smiling while I played a brief game with the sun, seeing how many colors I could find in the rainbow of color that radiated from its glow.

The diamond was a droplet of rain still clinging to a leaf.  It was a beautiful jewel and I cherished the thought of its value to our summer-scorched perennials.  As I thought of its worth, I realized that it was more valuable to that plant than a diamond is to me, for instead of being a pretty bauble, it is the very hope of life to the lily to which it clung.

Summer has been relentless this year, pressing its heat into the earth, robbing the ground of its valuable moisture like a bandit with a gun.  I have spent hours watering the gardens with our well water and a hose, knowing I could only make a difference as long as our well didn’t go dry.  While I water sometimes I wonder if the water will soak down into the ground enough to find its way back to the well from which it came.  I don’t think so—it seems to evaporate into the atmosphere and is lost to me forever.

But somehow, someway, before it evaporates it is valuable to the plants that I water.  I watch as they lift drooping heads toward the sun once more after they have received their cherished water, and I know that those droplets of water are the difference between life and death to that flower.

However…a diamond?  In itself it is worthless to my life.  If I were stranded on an island with nothing to eat or drink and found a cave full of the most exquisite diamonds, they would have no value to me at all, because they would be unable to sustain my life.  I could not eat them or drink them.  My body could gain no nutrients from them at all.  They would be totally worthless.

And so as I stand and gaze at the moist diamond on the lily leaf glimmering in the sunlight, I smile and realize that big or small, important or insignificant, everything and everyone has value.  And for that fact and for the rain I am thankful.

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Impatience!

Ashamedly, I’m terribly afraid that the title defines me perfectly.  How very often I want what I want, and I want it RIGHT NOW!!!  When I garden, I often dig a tiny start from the side of an established plant, because that plant is just the right one to fill in the height and color in a new corner of a garden.  It’s free that way, but oh!  How hard it is to wait a season to see it truly the size and shape I want to see.  Waiting is SO hard!

When I was a child, I remember thinking Christmas would never come!  Oh, how I waited and dreamed and imagined and yes, even prayed.  Time lagged so!

I remember when I was in my very early teens, I could hardly stand how slowly time passed!  I wanted so desperately to be ‘grown up’ enough to date!  And then to get married and have a family!  When Rick and I were in the early years of our marriage I thought I couldn’t stand it until he finished college and we could start our family.  Those years were fun and wonderful in many ways, but so much of it was wasted on me in my impatience to get to the next step in life.

From the time my boys were finally in my arms, I began to cherish every moment.  But, do you know what?  That was exactly when time began to fly!  Oh, my!  It flew so quickly and I could not hold one minute in my hands.

This week I got an email from a reader who said, (and I quote):   “I finished the book Wednesday. I loved it! Are the other books sequels? I couldn’t wait to see what happened, and I was so very frustrated that Ethan didn’t just GO HOME!”   I had to laugh.  How like me!  I’m actually glad I’m not the only impatient person in the world!

Have I outgrown my impatience?  Well, I wish I could tell you that I am perfectly mature now and take everything as it comes.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 2 probably states it most eloquently:  “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…” but still I find myself sighing over my hopes and dreams for the future.  Will I never grow up completely?

And now those precious boys are grown with children of their own.  I intend to enjoy every single fleeting moment of my grandchildren’s lives.  But now I’ve developed a new impatience!  From the time I come home from a visit with them, I can hardly wait for the next time!  Good grief!  There’s so MUCH of life to be lived in between times!

And so I am learning to pray that God will help me to make the most of each moment;  that I will cherish each breath.  That I will love every smile I receive.  That I will praise God for each new flower that opens, and every heart I can touch…and encourage…and lift…and that I will not be so busy looking to the future that I miss opportunities in the present.

(Lord, please let me look around me today and make a difference in the world around me here and now!)

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Garden Therapy

I absolutely love flowers.  I just can’t seem to help being drawn to beautiful flowers.  They seem to have God’s signature all over them, don’t you think?

And, of course, loving flowers, I also love gardens!  Oh, how I love to walk in gardens and smell the scent of the dew in the early morning, or the fragrance of the sun-drenched earth late in the afternoon or early evening mixed with the fragrance of the lovely flowers.  There’s just something there that speaks to my very soul!

When I was a little girl and we used to sing the old hymns from the hymnal in church, one of my favorites was called “In the Garden”.  Many times as I’m weeding or transplanting or deadheading or mulching, I sing that song again.  The words are:

(Verse 1)

I come to the garden alone,

While the dew is still on the roses;

And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,

The Son of God discloses.

(Chorus)

And He walks with me,

And He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own,

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

(Verse 2)

He speaks, and the sound of His voice

Is so sweet the birds hush their singing;

And the melody that He gave to me

Within my heart is ringing.

(Verse 3)

I’d stay in the garden with Him

Though the night around me be falling;

But He bids me go through the voice of woe,

His voice to me is calling.

There are many times in my lifetime when I have heard God’s voice as I work or rest in my gardens.  He has always seemed particularly close then.  Last evening as I wandered around the yard chatting with my Lord, I also snapped some pictures.  Have you ever looked closely at a columbine?  They are one of the most intricate blooms and so very lovely!  I cannot look at one without praising their Maker!  He is amazing!  Here are a couple of pictures that I took last evening:

And I also feel somewhat like a sculptor as I create my gardens with the various heights and times of blooms.  I like to fill a garden with enough variety so that something in the garden is in bloom from earliest spring right through until the mums die at frost.  And even if there is a week here and there when nothing is in bloom, there are the varieties of foliage that create beauty without even a bloom present.

If my spirit is distressed or weary or even upset over something, an hour or so in my gardens quickly dispels even the foulest mood and replaces it with such perfect peace that there can be no denying that God was there!  He never, never fails to meet me there!

I love to imagine what the Garden of Eden must have looked like.  Can you imagine?  But of all the lovely flowers and trees and fruits, the wonder of wonders is that God walked there.  And I’m glad He still loves gardens!

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A number of years ago, when we lived in Indiana, I watched for the killdeer each spring and enjoyed them all summer long.  They are a noisy bunch of birds, but they are so very beautiful and they loved nesting at our place in the country.  At one point I wrote a free lance article that I will post here.  It described the fun of hosting killdeer quite well.  I hope you enjoy it.  I miss them very much!  Here it is:

Every spring a pair of Killdeer nest in the center of our driveway.  They are beautiful birds with gorgeous coloring, albeit very loud.  The nest is very well camouflaged in the stones.

The edge of one of my gardens is along the driveway where the Killdeer nest is placed each spring, but it took a couple of years before I actually found the nest.  The eggs are the same color as the gravel, and even when the mother is on the nest, since her coloring is also very similar, it is difficult to recognize.  But it is not difficult to quickly become aware that there is a nest nearby when working in the garden because of the way the mother bird behaves.

She first becomes very active and at the same time very loud.  She will swoop close to my head, and when I turn to look at her she will drop to the ground and begin to walk as though one leg is broken and drags one wing spread and limp behind her.  She will waddle quickly away from me in the opposite direction of her nest, hoping I will follow her. Sometimes her spouse will do the same in a different direction.

When the Killdeer babies are hatched, they are the same color as the parents, but a much smaller version.  They all look like they are dressed for a wedding in their lovely black and tan tuxedos!  Within a day of hatching they can run as quickly as an adult.  When they nap, and they nap several times a day for the first few days, they will lay in the nest in the same arrangement the eggs had lain, and are just as difficult to recognize in the gravel.

Within a week of hatching, the family moves back to nest in the grassy field behind our house, but with the loud call, I always know they are nearby.  In late fall when they have migrated, the air seems very still.  And suddenly I become aware of the musical singing of all the other birds at the bird feeders, and settle in for a quiet winter to wait once more for the loud call of the Killdeer heralding in a new spring.

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