Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Him

We pray because entering His presence is the answer to all our prayers. (Ann Voscamp)

Yeah, I've been feeling this way.....I dash out to steal a moment... outside because it seems my prayers are formed best within the pine thicket . This God/man, Jesus-- and His God/man presence is always out there waiting for my faith to see Him there.  


Before the pine thicket, I found Him on the other end of the receiver in the afternoon.  I heard him speaking peace to me through the kindness of  a woman who I have never met; a woman who spent her time and spent some of  the goodness of her heart on me, though she has plenty to spare.... all on me, a near stranger.   She was ready for me since she has a "pine thicket" of her own.  She was ready to share how she has learned to trust Him, how she has seen Him pull things through, how He is the ultimate hero, and we can trust Him with every part of us.  And I believed her and she didn't "spend" on me in vain.

There are places my faith has never taken me, though now I want to go.   Beyond the pine thicket and into the unknown.  


And I am so ordinary that it seems strange that God could be interested in my walk in the pine thicket and your walk there, too.  It seems strange that my greatest strength rests in my calloused hands that hang ever so tightly onto Him. But, when I am not holding on to Him,  He is yet holding on to me.  





 







Monday, July 23, 2012

Dreams

 Weaved through my existence are glimpses of my dreams poking and prodding for audience in the constant noise and afflictions of  mind and heart.  Like a ball in a rushing stream...being pushed along with the force of the flow, but buoyant enough to surface in a rolling, heaving moment for air  before being forced just underneath the surface again, quickly slipping away into darkness. 
Dreams;  how they propel, how they make distinctive a thought, a moment, an idea, a feeling.  Like the prize, a dream is worth contending for, for dreams are the stuff of God.

When I was a young girl, the drive home from Sunday service took us past a two story house of worn white painted bricks with an old wrought iron fence tucking in the hedges and tiny yard surrounding it.   You could see it's former glory, but the comfort of the place was in the years of wear and tear.  Like your father's favorite recliner, now feeling more like that warm place up against his chest than a chair, especially now that he's gone.  You just want to curl up in that chair and stay awhile.  I was just a girl then, but that is when I first saw my dream surface for a moment in the stream's current.  It was my house for a moment, as our car was passing by, warm with the faces of my children  in the yard and each had  a place at the table and a bed in the upstairs rooms.  There were six of them who were mine and it seemed the most heavenly thinking  I'd done up to that moment in my few years here. I saw myself, and I was "Mother".

Childhood passed as all childhoods do and into the current the dream submerged.  I didn't think of it anymore. Besides, no one dreams of disappearing into obscurity to tend a garden that leaves you dusty, dirty, tired, and doesn't produce any visible fruit for years upon years?  In my day, we hashed out the purpose of our lives holding tightly to class schedules and slipping student loan payments into business sized envelopes.  We looked smart, ambitious, and paid homage to the wisdom our day at the same time. 

But, there always comes a day, doesn't there?  The day when you run out of  ambition for chasing the dreams created in the cauldron of the day.  The day when your own heart begins to chastise you.  A few days ago the Lord added to the dialogue going on within  and he sunk my heart deep into the waters of the thing with just a few simple words.  From Kari at  Broken and Beautiful I found these beautiful words and I swallowed them whole:   When we push down our deepest desires and do not face them, we put ourselves in a very vulnerable place. We end up doing things that we know is not what we truly desire deep down in the depths of our hearts…but in the moment it seems easier and we rather trade in feeling that at least some of our needs are being met, rather than every part of our heart.  

That day I took those words with me out onto the path where I would walk and meet with Him...that Dream Maker, Him.  I felt a fire within and expectation that these words and these ideas were to mean even more to me in the coming days.  That as a mother hen spreads her wings over her young, that He had begun to expand the span of mine.  Behind our home and onto the trail I walked around and around, since the trail is circular. 
  I took the words and I held them  up to the light shining over the farm, I turned them upside down and looked at them out of the shadows, I studied them like some kind of sculpted object not wanting  to miss even one stroke of the chisel.  It was hot and I was tired from walking now and thinking of my dreams and all, and there "he" came carrying water.........the fruition of the Almighty's dream placed within me, carrying a container of water......because this thoughtful boy imagined that his mother was thirsty. 




I laughed out loud.  I drank the water and hugged my boy, and inwardly danced a joyful dance for my son and his three brothers.  I rejoiced knowing that He had lead me to this place...that my heart was full and and yet longing for more of HIS plans and more of His dreams for all of us.

 How precious  are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You. (from the Psalms )


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I would love for you to check out Kari's blog at Broken and Beautiful and read about the time she is spending right now in Uganda imparting the hope of Jesus to children of war.  Imparting the hope of God dreams.

The story of Lopez Lomong.....Sudanese child stolen from his family who dreamed of running in the U.S Olympics.  His story is utterly inspiring and will help you if are having trouble believing, finding hope, and dreaming your dreams
Running For My Life

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Of Poultry and Good Neighbors

   Chickens can be like  relaxation therapy.  There is nothing in the world to compare to sitting yourself down in an old metal lawn chair in the cool of the evening and watching a small flock of chickens just being chickens.  I don't know why this is, but it is both mesmerizing and strangely hypnotic.  Lately, though, the chickens on our farm have pushed us to our chicken-lovin' limits.  Sure, they do all of the cute chickenish things:  they peck, they scratch, and interact with each other.  Our chickens produce a hefty sum of eggs in the spring and enough to sustain us and a neighbor through the summer.   If that were all that they "did", all would be well on Four Oaks Farm, as far as chickens go.

If only the offenses hadn't been mounting.  If only those feathered bug catchers had just kept their place on the farm.  But, as it so often happens, they wanted more than their fair share of 12.8 acres of country bliss.  And speaking frankly, should I really expect more self restraint from a chicken than even a human can achieve?   Like humans, there were entitlement issues, boundary pushing, and nasty borrowing habits that apparently, they felt were worth the risk of expulsion.  I mean, even in chickendom the motto seems to be:   YOLO. (if you have no teenagers in your life, ask me to define)

First, it was the porches.  If a chicken could read, I would have hung a sign, "This is not a toilet".  But, to a chicken, the world is their toilet and there was no changing their minds about this.  We are not a demanding lot, but this challenged us all.  Once they began visiting the "powder room" attached to our house, they felt the flower pots would make a perfect spot to maintain their pest free chicken skin.  Daily dusting in the pots and any newly cultivated and seeded soil was free game and the seeds were just a bonus.  Since nothing could grow in the pots and the dirt was flung daily onto the porch, all hope of a flora filled entrance was abandoned before the petunias began to bloom.  Even the cats were offended by their empty food dishes that were pecked completely clean in a flurry of feathers.

But there was the "relaxing" right?  I mean the chickens were  still at least good for an hour or two of evening viewing..and where can you find scratching and pecking on the Dish Network lineup anyhow?    They were good for it, that is  until they started going "visitin".  Sometime earlier in the summer I would see them way out in the neighbor's field.  Just scratching at the cow patties I thought, no harm to that and they always came home by dark.  It wasn't until our neighbor came a visitin' that I realized that the land of the free range chicken was in serious jeopardy.  No, it was all but done for.

Our neighbor and his wife are in the poultry business in earnest.  There are 66,000 birds just across the field at any given time who are being expertly cared for, grown, and fattened for the culinary delight of thousands.  They work very hard, very long, and very happily to provide for their families and for meat lovers everywhere.  And when our tiny flock showed up one day for afternoon tea, our neighbors knew they had a dilemma on their hands. In the poultry business, there is no room for mixing flocks.  This could be dangerous for both the large flock and our measly few, as new germs can devastate a flock.   When he drove up in his white pick up truck, with his tiny blond haired daughter draped over his shoulder,  I wondered what might be up?  Once he had shown up like this when  one of our chickens was hit in the road and he and  his wife couldn't bare to leave it there.  His wife had sent him back with instructions to deliver the injured hen to us.  And this time, though the situation was much different, he yet again came with absolute kindness, sincerity, and patience, as he talked the situation over with me.   He certainly didn't want to shoot each and every one of our feathered princesses on the ground that they stood gorging on.  What could he do but  appeal to our reason and sense of farming comradery.  As his little girl dozed off on his shoulder,  I assured him that we were on his side.  It would take more than a backyard flock of chickens to come between us and our neighbors.  Come sundown, it would be  "Operation:  Stop the Free Rangers".

That night we waited until dusk; crate in hand and hands ready to work. Our chickens roost in a small red barn and they were all cozy-ing in for the night.  Perfect.  I was at station A: the crate.  Our two younger sons were given station B: the key job of catchers.  Tim (Dad) was at station C:  the point man watching for fleeing chickens running for freedom.  One by one, we took them.  One by one, they morphed from healthful, happy, free-ranging chickens to subdued birds in a secure cage.

You may think that this is a sad ending to a once lovely story, but I have to admit that when I heard the rooster crow this morning, I hid the smile on my face and muffled a vengeful snicker. I swept my porch clean,  I imagined the flowers I would grow in the empty pots, and I put out a little cat food for good measure.  I thought it funny how completely relaxed that I felt. ;)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Keep my Heart With You

 Part of the solution to poverty is doing whatever it takes to get your heart to stay with the poor.  (Ann Voskamp)

A few months ago I read two books;  Radical and The Hole in our Gospel.  And many times as I was reading, my heart would pound, and  I felt like I was that fallow ground being broken by the plow once again.  I felt I would never, ever be able to see the world and myself the same again.  I met Jesus in a new place; the place of suffering and the needy here on earth and it stung so deep.   The poor came knocking at my door.  They peered in my windows to see me sipping my morning brew.  They saw my wealth and wondered.  I saw the orphan with no mother to hold them and comfort them, the persecuted church who are all full of glory and joy, though they suffer.  And I felt the Lord was so near to me as I discovered and prayed and felt a "calling" inside of me.  I still feel it and I'm hashing it out and waiting for the answers to, "What more can I do?".  


Their memory is dimming though I have been praying for them and sending what I can.  We are even the proud owners of a photo of a tiny African boy from Swaziland who, through World Vision, we are able to help with his basic needs. But their memory is still dimming in me.  I can see it becoming less clear with every three and a  half  dollar gallon of gas that I buy and every frozen pizza that I serve for convenience sake. 

Today, I came across a post called The 1 Thing You Really Have to Know About Your Family.  Today, I remembered again like I did in the beginning.  Today the tears flow and I want them to because I want to remember in this way.  Maybe if we all remember them, some of them will suffer less and some will "believe" and become an instrument of change for their people; an instrument of our Father in Heaven.  


Somewhere in the post I read:  Part of the solution to poverty is doing whatever it takes to get your heart to stay with the poor.  This is my prayer today.  And if I keep my heart with the poor, I keep my heart with Jesus. 

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 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.


But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.




 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

She Said........

She said, "Isaac is cute too".  She, only four years old, and yet so intuitive about what was important.  She, an American for just six short months, her new brother, Isaac, the same.  I was just getting my introductions to her; this glossy, dark eyed child; her hair, like black silk.  I made a remark about her being so very cute, and she added, in her tiny girl voice, what was in her heart, "Isaac is cute, too".

Isaac, had been curious and wondered passed our chatter, all smiling and inquisitive.  He had only just become her brother those six months ago, but she so obviously loved him.  The two of them merged into family from two separate orphanages in China, having never met before the day that they became "family".   This amazing transaction of paper and pen, was so much more than that now.  I could see with my eyes and feel with my spirit that God had created family here, and it was bigger than life. 

For over an hour, I listened like my life depended on it, to the stories of mountains traversed, obstacles thrown down, and God making a way in the end.   And there it was; the beautiful conclusion spilled out before my eyes in flesh and blood.  The family of 7 I knew, now a table for 9.  And their joy was tangible!  Their love fully reciprocated by these tiny treasures from China.  She said so much more than her words articulated, and I heard every word of it.  ♥♥

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Beautiful You

I blatantly stole the title of the song that I shared below for my post. I am not ashamed.

Yesterday, while listening to this song, among others, and doing kitchen work, a fire broke out on the mountain in front of our farm. We are in the midst of a drought and fire is no laughing matter around here.   I watched the smoke ascending in plumes of gray from my front porch.  Inspired by the fire, I decided to water the flowers....( I know, sounds crazy) figuring a little water around my house couldn't hurt.  As I was watering, a call came conveying the need to leave the house; the fire was headed toward us and it wasn't more than half a mile away.  Funny, how  narrow my focus became after getting this news.  With my home and all of my worldly goods in immediate danger,  I called my son Jack, who was the only other one with me that afternoon, I gathered our three small house dogs, and I took the green and white book that holds all of the notes that I have been writing down as the Lord speaks to me about our life, especially our call to adopt, and the events that have been markers for me in that journey.  Markers that I go back to time again when I doubt the call or am discouraged about the waiting and wondering how it will all work out.   Jack and I said a prayer for our home and drove away hoping to escape the flames that were heading down the hill towards us.  And that was it.  We could have went to a relative's house to wait, but instead went to Gar Creek where we could turn back at a safe distance and watch as the fire trucks raced by, one after another, heading towards the spectacle of smoke rising.   

An hour later, we were back at home, the flames had changed direction and burned up a stretch of unoccupied field and forest land, only taking some barns and a neighbor's tractor in it's assault.  As I pulled into the driveway, enjoying the sight of the little farm all surrounded by the dry and brittle grass, I let the dogs pounce safely out  onto the driveway, and my son, Jack, ran inside.  I grabbed my treasure; the green and white book, and carried it back to it's spot on the shelf....all full of my hopes and dreams for His plans to emerge into our reality.  

Today, I was thinking of the fire.   I was thinking of the sudden urgency to leave, the hurry to escape, and for just a second, to decide what valuables I would  gather from our house.  I laughed w/ pleasure at the place He has brought us to in this life.  That place where our treasures are not earthly, can not be bought, or sold, and hold no value to anyone but us.  My only treasure worth the few seconds of time that I had ended up being the green and white book ....the memories and accounts of His work in our lives.   Awesome!

-------------------------------------------------------------------My worship song to Him for keeping us from the fire and giving us a home to come back to.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.   Lyrics first, then click link below:  

All the oceans and the seas know the sound of Your beautiful voice.
And if You tell them to be calm and be still they have no other choice.
You put the stars in the sky and then You taught them to shine.
They know just what to do.
Every morning's a symphony that's perfectly timed by beautiful You.

Chorus
Beautiful You. I can't imagine life without You.
Beautiful You. I can't imagine being alone.
Beautiful You. God all I ever want to do is have You hold me in Your arms.
Beautiful You.

All the waterfalls know just where to fall brilliant every time.
And when it rains You are behind it all with gentle rhythm and rhyme.
Mountains high know Your voice and they are ready to move where You tell them to.
With all my heart I believe that power lives in me because of beautiful You.
Chorus

Every ocean, every sea, every morning's a symphony.
Every drop of rain, every waterfall, all the stars in the sky are so beautiful.
Every breath I breathe, every beat of my heart. I feel so alive because of who You are.
Every day I rise, every time I sing I'm reminded of Your great love for me.
You're beautiful, so beautiful.

Click the link below and hear it for yourself.  You may love it. ♥



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Something About Her Was Beautiful

I'm remembering the day I first saw her at Gar Creek and how I was beside her before I noticed that she was there. I thought she was amazing and beautiful. She had apparently been laboring a long while before I crossed her path and I'm sure she would have preferred that I never did. It's strange to express how mesmerizing she was to me, and how profound the moment. If I tried to tell you later what I'd seen, I would mumble something about seeing a turtle on the path at the park in my clumsy, uninteresting speech, but could never articulate my real regard for her.

In her movements there was no hurry, worry, or tension. Her presence was patience and resolve. She had already burrowed, apparently, with just her hind legs, a narrow hole that descended into the earth. I think she was resting, or attempting to remain unseen when I stopped, and in deference to her holy work, I only watched for a moment. I only watched for a moment, but I came around to her many times for the next hour or so. Sometimes she'd be resting and sometimes she'd have her leg inside of the hole as she removed more dirt. One of the last times that I came to her, I saw them; shining, white leathery balls. They lay softly tucked inside the hole now, but later she would push them further down and out of sight before burying them completely. This was the treasure that she had been working for all along; her offspring, her babies.

The next day when I arrived, I headed straight to her, only she was not there. No, I didn't expect to find her, but I wanted to see how it was that she finished. I had made note of the spot, though there were no real good markers, I thought I could remember. I searched but couldn't find it, it was as if she hadn't been there. In time I thought I found it, swept clean and all but hidden under the shade of the sugarberry trees. I marveled that no one else but me, no one knew what she had done, and that in two to three months the ground would give way to a great increase, and what was hidden would burst forth and have the potential in this tiny lake ecosystem of multiplying many times over again. In secret the seeds of life were planted.

So what of it all? Her ancient ritual of God-breathed instinct seemed to utter unspoken words. And I couldn't help but imagine a parallel between her and me. Only she was carrying on her calling and I, I deny the gift inside it's due life because of fear and insecurity. She was no more than a mother turtle, and me, I wonder who it is that I am at times? Is who I am made to be o.k. to just be? And I bury the clutch so deep that no one will ever see what God has planted there, yet she, having no reason to do anything but what her instinct told her to do, was doing what was necessary to see an increase.


I resolve. I resolve to be more like her because she spent her days doing what she was made to do. It's so simple, yet so profound to learn from her, and something about her was so beautiful.