July 30, 2013

the least of these


Remember Katie?  How she was rescued from neglect and loved from this ...


... to this?



Well, there are other children still living (if you can call it that) at the orphanage where Katie was.

They're waiting for families, and some families are waiting for them.  As you can imagine, rescue is not cheap work.  Here's a way we can to help.

Hidden Treasures is the name of a charity which raises funds via online auction to help families bring these children home.  The next auction, will open at midnight August 1, and among many other donated items will be some cards lovingly made by Sugar (along with some bookmarks made by Nice):

insides of cards
fronts of cards w/ envelopes


fronts of envelopes
backs of envelopes


 and my last Sweater Teddy:


If you'd like to help some of these children find a home, check out the auction August 1st through August 7th - maybe there will be something there you could use.  You can also donate an item for the auction, or make a monetary donation, by emailing hiddentreasuresauction@gmail.com.  All proceeds benefit the Huizinga family, who are working hard to bring home two abandoned daughters.


:

July 28, 2013

run the race . . .

... with perseverance!!


For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things,
holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
{I Timothy 4:8}

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that
through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide
we might have hope.  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement
give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.  
{Romans 15: 4,5}  


And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 

{Romans 5:2-5}
...in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  
{Romans 8:37,38}
He will also keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless 
on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you 
into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  
{I Corinthians 1:8-9}

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  {2 Corinthians 4:16-18}


Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  
{2 Corinthians 12:8-10}

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  {Philippians 3:12-14}

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  {Philippians 4:13}

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men, 
since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. 
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  {Colossians 3:23-24}

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you
from the evil one.  We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing 
and will continue to do the things we command.  
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.  
{2 Thessalonians 3:3-5}

And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.  
{2 Thessalonians 3:13}

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline.  {2 Timothy 1:7}

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  {Hebrews 10:23}

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  {1 Peter 5:10}

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  
{2 Peter 1:5}

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us 
and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 
encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  
{2 Thessalonians 2:16}

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles. 
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, 
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, 
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  
{Hebrews 12:1-3}









July 24, 2013

harvest

When we were younger, and my Farmer and I would garden together, he would laugh at my hearty hoeing, correctly predicting that I wouldn't last long at that rate.  I tried to pace myself, but "medium" is not one of my factory settings, and I'd soon tire, marveling (red-faced) at my Farmer's ability to keep going, and going, and going, the tortoise to my hare.

So it's really no surprise that after fifteen years and four children, I've grown weary.

"Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  Galatians 6:9

Back when facebook allotted a small box for a quotation next to my profile photo, I posted this verse, so that it would inspire me whenever I visited my own page (which was rarely, as it turned out, once I discovered the newsfeed).  Frankly, though, I grew weary not only of doing good, but of seeing the verse, for it seemed that "due season" would never come.

But at last, my friends, a harvest is in sight:

Yesterday morning, when they overheard me say I needed to bake & ice my Farmer's cake, all three daughters immediately piped up: "can I help?!"  And when the cake was cooled and the icing whipped smooth, and I still needed to cook the rest of supper, I asked Spice to ice the cake, and Sugar to decorate.  They smilingly consented.

When the cake was nearly done, and it was time to pick some corn & husk it, but I was still stirring the white sauce for the stroganoff, I asked Spice to go down to the garden for a dozen ears.  Nice begged to be allowed to pick some, too.  And when she came back with a sample ear for my inspection, and was told that it passed and she would be promoted to official corn-picker, she grinned with satisfaction and pride.

I've done a lot wrong in my life, made lots of mistakes, hurt people I loved, and lost sight of what's important.  I've missed a lot of lessons God wanted to teach me.  But yesterday as we prepared my Farmer's birthday feast, I realized - this I have done right:

I have (at least, when too overwhelmed & under-energized to do it all myself) allowed my children to solve their own problems, attempt things that might be too hard for them, try their hands at things I would have rather done myself.  And they have succeeded, beyond my wildest expectations (which were, after all, rather tame).

I have somehow managed to raise children who, despite my own failings in this area, are eager to do meaningful work, take pride in a job well-done, rise to meet the need (of which I'm sure I provide plenty) and git 'er done.  (Probably only my parents will understand the scope of this miracle!)

Most of this you will see I am not responsible for at all.  It's grace, and the outrageous gift of a spent body that positions me to receive these unexpected blessings.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however,
it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Hebrews 12:11

I don't expect uninterrupted days of righteousness & peace from now until Heaven, but when moments of harvest shine through the rubble of weary despair, it seems worth noting, don't you think?


July 23, 2013

a miracle


Today, 

an undisclosed
(but very distinguished)
number of years ago,
a tiny boy was born 

2 months prematurely.


He developed

a serious case
of hydrocephalus

and the doctors weren't at all sure
he would survive
to be normal. 



Happily,


they were right,
but not in a way they expected:

my Farmer

is anything
but normal,

and I am so pleased
to be his wife
and the mother of his children
into whom 
he so tenderly
pours himself.

Happy Birthday, my beloved!



my Farmer at his farm, with his banjo & the produce he so capably grows





July 13, 2013

what's in a name?

[from Nov. 2011 .... something I still wonder about]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Last night I sat at a pottery wheel and spun some clay.  I picked up tools and dug in pots to make designs.  I drew.  I cut.  I smoothed out seams with fingers.  I pulled a handle and fastened it to make a mug, a pitcher. For inspiration, I used the images in my head and in my sketchbook.

I am an amateur, unprofessional, a hobbyist.  I am a mother with a BA in English and a TESL minor, raising children, and throwing pots for fun.  I pay for the privilege of instruction.  I sit under people who earn (at least part of) their living from their art.  Any dreams I have of making pottery "for a living" are very faint indeed, dimmed by my very real and present duties of cooking and cleaning and loving, and pulled out only on weekend retreats.

My classmates, fellow hopefuls who have tried their hands at this for years, complimented everything I did last night, ooh-ing and ahh-ing with abandon.

Feeling dishonest with my "thank-you's", my discomfort reached a tipping point when one of them spied my sketchbook left open, full of chicken scratch, attempts to capture beauty with a pen to help my memory.  More exclamations, and then,

"Are you an artist?"

I thought how I should answer.  "I am a mom," I said.  "I have an English degree and I like to make pottery - a lot.  Does that  make me an artist?"

She looked back in my book.  "You're an artist."  Her voice was firm, authoritative from her decades of teaching school.

What's in a name?  What separates the amateur from the artist?  As much as I'd like to believe her, and as much as I appreciate the encouragement, I think she's wrong.  The admiration of amateurs does not determine art, but the acceptance of those who have already gained acceptance from those who have already gained acceptance from .... the public.  Hmmm.  Perhaps I have created a circular argument.

Either that or my brain is just limp with hearing Nice playing with Lil' Snip, my ears held hostage to that piercing voice reserved for the hard-of-hearing, foreigners, and small children.

But feel free to point me in the right direction - what is your criteria for defining art?



July 5, 2013

hidden

Something else about the chrysalis
(another swallowtail flew free this morning):
it happens, hidden.  

Isolated,
enrobed in green,
out of sight,
the changes happen.

In darkness,
may be.

Outside our observation.
Beyond prediction,
were I the caterpillar.

Plump green fat-footed body
exchanged
for delicate black-winged velvet beauty,
curling, unfurling proboscis,
tentative touching antennae.

Plodding gravity-bound being
Transformed for flight.

Me?
Improbable.
But, true!

You?


And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  II Corinthians 3:18

[more on caterpillars and metamorphosis:  here, here, here, here, and here.]


July 3, 2013

the farmer takes a wife

Remembering this evening, first posted two years ago ... my children still astonish me, and leave me amazed that a subdivision-raised girl like me could have daughters (and a son) so confidently knowledgeable about things I am only now discovering, both about the natural world and myself.  May God Himself sustain their faith and make it sure.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This evening, after supper, I walked with my Farmer (who carried our son) and three daughters, back behind the barn and along the ridge through the cornfields to the neighbor's pig barn to watch giant tractors bring their manure-spreaders in to be filled.

One was green (John Deere).  The other was red (Case IH).  The green one had huge double wheels.  The red one was hinged in the middle ("articulated", to those in the know).  Both pulled 7300-gallon tanks of liquid manure, the weight spread over three sets of tires (the front two could be lifted free from the ground).

My daughters held their noses and exclaimed over how big the tractors' wheels were.  My son, ears covered by his fleece cap but his little legs sticking out, chilly, where his pantlegs had ridden up, just gazed around in wonder at the wide, wide world.

I watched them, my children.  I am their mother - these offspring so foreign to me, sometimes.  They know so much about tractors, growing things, and manure.

We drove out to buy milk from a neighbor's dairy this morning.  We spotted some new calves and day-dreamed about having one at our house.  Sugar, in her 9-year-old wisdom,  said we couldn't keep it in the barn, though, or it might get hoof disease.  Hoof disease?!  Was that in the science curriculum somewhere that I missed?

On the way home,  I admired the green growing in a field and Sugar said it was probably rye.  

After we (well, I) had marveled long enough at the giant tractors, we headed back home over the cornfields.  Sugar and Spice ran ahead, hair flying brilliant in the setting sun.  Nice stayed with me, hanging on to my arm and telling me what a nice mommy I was.  Lil' Snip bounced along on Daddy's arm and just looked and looked and looked.

I wonder what he was thinking ....


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